The Calgary Hitmen (26-10-1-3) host the Vancouver Giants (11-29-0-0), today, Sunday, January 6 in the second annual East West Shrine Hockey Challenge. Game time is 4 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The teams will be competing for the McLean Cup which was won in Vancouver by the Calgary Hitmen in a 6-4 decision last season. The game is an opportunity for the members of the Al Azhar Shriners to showcase their commitment to childrens’ health through their support of Shriners Hospitals for Children. One of the local recipients of that support will be featured in the game, while members of Shriners International will be in attendance.
The Shriners will provide entertainment for Hitmen fans throughout the game with their clowns, Oriental band and miniature cars and planes. The McLean Cup will be awarded to the winning team following Sunday’s game.
HITMEN HEADLINES: After dropping a 3-2 decision against the Kootenay Ice on New Year’s Eve in Cranbrook, Calgary has won two straight games at the ‘Dome, scoring a combined 16 goals while allowing just three. Brooks Macek (4g, 2a), who recorded his second career WHL hat trick in Calgary’s 10-2 triumph over Brandon on Jan. 2, and Brady Brassart (1g, 5a), who tallied a career-high four-point effort against the Wheat Kings, lead the Hitmen with six points each over the last two home wins. At 56 points, Calgary remains third in the Eastern Conference standings, three points behind the conference-leading Edmonton Oil Kings.
VS. VANCOUVER: Tonight is the second and final meeting between the Hitmen and Giants. Calgary leads the season series after defeating Vancouver 5-4 at Pacific Coliseum in October. Captain Cody Sylvester (3g, 1a) scored his first career Western Hockey League hat trick in the road victory, while Brooks Macek (1g, 1a) and Josh Thrower, with his first career goal, also added tallies for Calgary. Greg Chase and Alex Roach each chipped in two assists as Mack Shields made 30 saves to record his second career WHL win. Former Hitmen Trevor Cheek (1g, 2a) leads the Giants with three points against Calgary, while Dalton Sward (1g, 1a) follows with two points in the series. Last season, Calgary held a 2-0-0-0 record against Vancouver. Over the last five years, the Hitmen are 9-0-0-1 against the Giants, including a 3-0-0-1 record at home.
Oct. 20/12 at VAN: Hitmen 5 Giants 4 … Cody Sylvester scored his first career WHL hat trick, while Josh Thrower tallied his first
career WHL goal in the win.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 24 VAN 34
Power Plays: CAL 2-5 (40%) VAN 1-5 (20%)
HITMEN TEAM LEADERS:
Goals (22) Cody Sylvester
Assists (29) Brooks Macek
Points (9 Brooks Macek
Power Play Goals (9) Cody Sylvester
PIM (82) Kenton Helgesen
Plus-Minus (+28) Alex Roach
Wins (21) Chris Driedger
FAMILIAR FACES: Trevor Cheek, who played two full seasons in Calgary (2010-2012) before a September 26th trade to Vancouver, faces his former team for the second time. Calgary acquired a fourth round pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft and fifth round pick in 2014 in exchange for the overage forward. Calgary native Rob Trzonkowski returns to his hometown to battle his former team. This past summer Trzonkowski was dealt by the Hitmen to the Kamloops Blazers in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. The Blazers recently traded Trzonkowski and a fifth round pick in 2015 to Vancouver in exchange for overage forward Kale Kessy.
WORLD JUNIORS: Swedish import Victor Rask captured a silver medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, as Team Sweden fell 3-1 to Team USA. Rask recorded two goals and two assists for four points along with 16 shots on goal over six games played at the tournament. The Carolina Hurricanes prospect is expected to return to the Hitmen lineup on Friday, Jan. 18.
U-17 RECAP: Jake Virtanen and Josh Thrower have returned from the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Victoriaville/Drummondville, Quebec, where they suited up for Team Pacific. Virtanen recorded seven points (5g, 2a) over five games played, while Thrower had one goal and one assist over the same span. Team Pacific finished the 2013 tournament in fifth. Over the last three seasons, six Hitmen have represented Team Pacific at the annual tournament including Giants forward Rob Trzonkowski who played two seasons in Calgary (2010-2012).
STREAKIN’: Cody Sylvester (2g, 6a) has eight points in four consecutive games, while Zane Jones (4g, 3a) has seven points over the same span. Pavlo Padakin has three goals and one assist his last three games. Brooks Macek (4g, 2a), Brady Brassart (1g, 5a), Chase Lang (2g, 3a), Alex Roach (1g, 3a) and Spencer Humphries (3a) all have points in back-to-back contests. Chris Driedger has allowed just four goals on 70 shots over three straight wins.
MILESTONE WATCH: Chris Driedger is three games shy of his 100th career WHL contest, while Kenton Helgesen is four games away from hitting 100 games played. Brendan Hurley is four games away from his 200th career game, while Jaynen Rissling is five contests shy of his 200th.
NHL PROSPECTS: Chris Driedger (Ottawa 2012); Kenton Helgesen (Anaheim 2012); Jaynen Rissling (Washington 2012); Alex Roach (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Los Angeles 2011); Victor Rask (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Carolina 2011).
POST-GAME AUTOGRAPHS: Meet forward Brendan Hurley at the Booster Club table located by section 212 after the game.
UPCOMING GAMES: Calgary will now head east on a four-game road swing starting Tuesday, Jan. 8 when the Hitmen visit the Brandon Wheat Kings, 6 p.m. at the Keystone Centre. Calgary will also make stops in Moose Jaw (Jan. 9), Regina (Jan. 11) and Swift Current (Jan. 12), before returning to the ‘Dome on Friday, Jan. 18 to face the Prince George Cougars. Tickets for upcoming Hitmen games are available at all Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1-855-985-5000.