The Calgary Hitmen picked up two points in the club’s second consecutive three-game weekend and will take part in a home-and-home this weekend against the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Hitmen have won just one of their last five contests but hold a comfortable lead for the top Eastern Conference wild card spot. With several notable changes to line combinations on both offense and defense, the Hitmen certainly improved some dimensions of overall gameplay such as their power play. While scoring on 2-of-7 man advantages in the final two weekend games, the Hitmen also increased the number of power-play shots on net and high quality scoring chances.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes are the only Central Division club that the Calgary Hitmen have not yet met this season. The first two games of their season series come at a convenient time for the Hitmen. Both Calen Addison and Dylan Cozens will be absent for the Canes as they take part in Team Canada’s World Junior Championship tryout in Oakville, Ontario. Cozens currently leads the WHL in points with 46 (20 goals, 26 assists), while Addison is second among all WHL defenceman with 29 (7 goals, 22 assists). The Hurricanes, however, are by no means reliant on these two stars as Oliver Okuliar has also been a beast thus far, leading the WHL with 23 goals. The only defender ahead of Calen Addison also happens to be a Hurricane. Alex Cotton, who — along with Okuliar — is undrafted, currently has 34 points in 32 games. It will certainly be interesting to see how these two breakout players do without their linemates for an extended period of time. In saying that, it is without question that these skaters, along with D-Jay Jerome, Dino Kambeitz, Logan Barlage and Zack Stringer, will be more heavily relied upon and will be players to watch for the Hitmen defensively. These six players have managed to score over 53% of the team’s goals. As expected with a strong offense as the Hurricanes have, the team’s power play has been strong, scoring on 23.5% of their man advantages thus far. The penalty kill has been an area of struggle for Lethbridge. In their last five games played against teams currently in playoff position, the Hurricanes have managed to kill just 12-of-19 penalties, which has contributed to their fourth-worst penalty kill in the entire WHL. Calgary’s power play, which has vastly improved lately, could take serious advantage of this part of the Hurricanes’ game. Unfortunately for Calgary, Mark Kastelic left Sunday night’s game with an injury, and while no information regarding a timeframe has been disclosed, it comes just days after Hunter Campbell was ruled out for 2-4 weeks with a lower-body injury.
After the home-and-home against Lethbridge, the Hitmen will enjoy a 12-day break before resuming play in Lethbridge on December 27th, once again against the Hurricanes.
- Earlier this week, the Calgary Hitmen signed Mason Finley, brother of Jack Finley (Spokane Chiefs), to a standard player agreement. The 15-year-old has 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points in 18 games played this season for the BCMML Okanagan Rockets.