Gameday Preview: Calgary Hitmen (32-18-4-1) @ Vancouver Giants (29-20-3-2)

 

DUBNetwork Game of the Night: Calgary Hitmen (32-18-4-1) @ Vancouver Giants (29-20-3-2) 7:30 PM PST

These two teams battle for the only time this season at the Langley Events Centre, as the Giants host the Hitmen.

There is some intrigue as the Hitmen have two Vancouver Canucks prospects on the team in Carson Focht and Jett Woo, two players integral to the success of the Hitmen this season.

The Giants are riding a season-high 10-game winning streak into the night’s action.

The streak has them in third in the BC Division, and they trail the Victoria Royals by just two points with two games in hand. The Calgary Hitmen have won four in-a-row and currently reside in the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They are just two points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Central Division race.

Carson Focht – Photo By: Candice Ward Photography

If you can say one thing about the offense in Calgary, it’s that they can keep up with the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Riley Stotts, Mark Kastelic, Orca Wiesblatt, and Carson Focht lead the way for the Hitmen, each of them has 49 or more points.

Their defense is no slouch either, despite losing Egor Zamula for the season following the World Junior Championships. Jett Woo has stepped up in his place, he has seven goals and 33 assists this season. Jackson Van de Leest has also stepped up, recently surpassing last season’s point totals.

Tristen Nielsen. Photo by Allen Douglas/Kamloops Blazers

Vancouver has several very good players as well leading the way offensively. Former Hitmen forward Tristen Nielsen leads the way for the Giants. He has 28 goals and 29 assists on the season. Newcomer Eric Florchuk has turned his season around. He’s got eight goals and 18 assists in 17 games with his new team. Nearly 18-years-old, Justin Sourdif has surpassed last season’s totals with 47 points in 49 games.

On a nine-game point streak, Bowen Byram seems to have finally found his way in the 2019-2020 season. He has six goals and 12 assists in those nine games to bring his season totals to nine goals and 30 assists. Seth Bafaro has also found his game, hitting the 20-point plateau for the first time in his WHL career.

Both teams have a duo of goaltenders that can be put into any game situation. If we were bettors, we would go with David Tendeck and Brayden Peters tonight but one can never tell what the coaches have in mind.

Tendeck has a 17-13-1-1 record this season and has a personal six-game win streak. He has a 2.21 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. Peters is 14-11-2-0 this season with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

You can check out all the action on WHL Live or you can tune into the radio broadcasts. Vancouver Giants play by play man Dan O’Connor can be heard on Sportsnet 650 and Calgary Hitmen play by play man Brad Curle can be heard on Sportsnet 960

In other WHL action (all times local):

Saskatoon Blades (28-22-2-3) @ Regina Pats (19-30-3-2) 7:00 PM

Regina is looking to play spoiler to the Blades’ chances of catching the rest of the division. Thus far they have done that, winning both previous games in extra time. Saskatoon is four points behind the Brandon Wheat Kings for third in the East Division and 10 points back of the division lead.

Spokane Chiefs (33-18-4-1) @ Swift Current Broncos (10-40-1-3) 7:00 PM

It’s the Adam Beckman watch, as he tries to be the first WHL player to cross the 100-point plateau. He will try to do so against a struggling Broncos squad. The Broncos have lost nine games in-a-row, while the Chiefs are winners of their last two games. Swift Current is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, Spokane has clinched at least a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Edmonton Oil Kings (38-9-6-3)@ Brandon Wheat Kings (30-20-3-2) 7:30 PM

The Oil Kings are headed into Brandon following a huge win over the Winnipeg ICE – their third straight victory. The Wheat Kings won their last game and are 1-2-0-0 against the Oil Kings this season, their lone win required a shootout. Edmonton’s Central Division lead is 10 points with 12 games remaining on the schedule. Brandon is four points back of the ICE for second in the East Division and six back of Prince Albert for the division lead. Brandon has a game in hand on both teams.

Moose Jaw Warriors (12-38-4-0) @ Lethbridge Hurricanes (34-15-2-5) 7:00 PM

Lethbridge is looking to snap a three-game losing skid, while the Warriors return to Canada following a tough, winless U.S. Division road swing. They do not have a win in their last 12 games (0-10-2-0). Lethbridge is 10 points back of Edmonton and four points ahead of Medicine Hat in the Central Division title race. Moose Jaw is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Tri-City Americans (17-32-4-1) @ Medicine Hat Tigers (34-18-2-1) 7:30 PM

On their Central Division road swing the Americans got off to a good start with a victory over the Broncos. The Ams are 4-0 against the Central Division now. They face a much tougher test in Medicine Hat as they take on the Tigers. Medicine Hat has lost their last two contests and look to rebound. The Tigers are four points behind the Hurricanes for second in the Central Division but are just two points ahead of the surging Calgary Hitmen, who hold down the first wild card spot.

Seattle Thunderbirds (22-27-3-3) @ Portland Winterhawks (39-8-3-4) 7:00 PM

In a bit of an anomaly, the Thunderbirds have been keeping pace with the Winterhawks this season. They are 3-3-0-1 this season although all three wins required a shootout. The Winterhawks are seven points clear of the Everett Silvertips for the US Division lead – the Silvertips do have a game in hand. The game is the first of three games for each of the teams this weekend. They meet again tomorrow night.

Kelowna Rockets (24-26-2-2) @ Victoria Royals (29-20-5-2) 7:05 PM

The Royals lead the season series between the two teams with a 4-2-0-0 record. The Rockets forced a shootout in one of the games as well. Kelowna will welcome Kris Mallette behind the bench for the first time as head coach. The team fired Adam Foote on Wednesday. Victoria is nine points back of the Kamloops Blazers for the BC Division lead while also two points ahead of the Vancouver Giants. Kelowna is in the first wild card spot, two points ahead of the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Prince George Cougars (16-30-3-4) @ Everett Silvertips (37-12-3-1) 7:35 PM

Another interesting anomaly in the WHL, the Prince George Cougars have won two of the three games between the teams. Everett has 78 points to Prince George’s 39. The Cougars are 11 points out of a playoff spot, with 15 games to play. They have lost four straight. Everett is seven points back of Portland and seven points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. Everett has won three straight.

DUBNetwork Forums Gameday Preview: Calgary Hitmen (32-18-4-1) @ Vancouver Giants (29-20-3-2)

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