Gameday Preview: Winnipeg ICE @ Calgary Hitmen

DUBNetwork Game of the Night: Winnipeg ICE (29-16-1-0) @ Calgary Hitmen (25-15-4-1) 7 PM CST

These two teams are seeing each other for the third time in 11 days, as the teams split a two-game set in Winnipeg on January 18-19.

Despite four points separating the teams, they find themselves in very different places in the standings. The Winnipeg ICE with 59 points lead the East Division by two points over the Prince Albert Raiders. They also have an extra game in hand. Meantime, Calgary with 55 points is in the first wild card position. The Central Division has been extremely tough this season and Calgary finds itself nine points back of Medicine Hat. The Hitmen do have themselves two more games to play than the Tigers.

Calgary enters action on a three-game win streak. Winnipeg has won its last two.

Isaac Johnson/Brad Ginnell – Photo: Brian Liesse

The Winnipeg ICE have an exciting lineup that has really found its way in the last couple of months. They are led in scoring by 20-year-old Isaac Johnson. The Andover, Minnesota, resident has brought the team along with him, especially since the injury to Connor McClennon. He has 15 points (5G, 10A) on a six-game point streak to overtake McClennon for the team scoring lead. Johnson now has 18 goals and 35 assists in 46 games with the ICE this season. His point totals are good for 16th in the WHL.

Riley Stotts – Photo: Candice Ward

Riley Stotts leads the way for the Calgary Hitmen. Over the weekend, he scored three goals and added three assists in back-to-back wins over the Red Deer Rebels. The six points brought his season totals to 22 goals and 28 assists, giving him back-to-back seasons of 50 or more points. The unsigned Toronto Maple Leafs prospect continues to show steady progression as a player.

Defenseman Jett Woo has had to step up recently due to the injury of Egor Zamula. The signed Vancouver Canucks prospect has not had his best season statistically but has emerged since the holiday break. He has at least a point in 12 of his last 15 games and five assists over the last three games. He now has six goals and 25 assists in 45 games.

Winnipeg also has an elite defenseman among its ranks. Signed Dallas Stars prospect Dawson Barteaux has joined the ICE for six games and has been productive. He has been held off the scoresheet only once, piling up two goals and six assists in the other five games. On the season, Barteaux now has nine goals and 22 assists over 45 games.

Liam Hughes- Photo: Zachary Peters

Since joining the ICE, Liam Hughes has been nothing short of excellent for the team. He has a stellar 13-3-0-0 record and has allowed just 2.17 goals per game. His save percentage has brought him to the forefront of the leaders at .924.

Brayden Peters and Luke Prokop – Photo: Candice Ward

Calgary counters with Brayden Peters, who has taken the reigns with his hot hand of late. He has not allowed more than two goals in his last five starts and has gone 4-1-0-0. Overall, he is 10-9-2-1 this season with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

Both teams are in the top half of the rankings on the power play. Calgary sits in seventh at 22.1% (29-of-131) and Winnipeg is fourth at 23.7% (47-of-198). The Hitmen have had the least amount of power plays in the WHL. On the penalty kill, both teams are in the bottom half of the league. Calgary is 13th at 78.7% and Winnipeg is 21st at 73.8%.

You can view tonight’s game via WHL Live, or listen in to local broadcasters for the Hitmen or the ICE

In other WHL action:

Victoria Royals (25-17-4-0) @ Prince Albert Raiders (24-14-5-4) 7 PM CST

The Royals continue their trip through the East Division. The team is currently 0-2-1-0 as it heads into Prince Albert but is still five points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets for second in the BC Division. The Raiders have points in their last eight games (4-0-1-3) and are just two points out of the East Division lead.

Brandon Wheat Kings (25-18-2-2) @ Red Deer Rebels (15-25-2-3) 7 PM MST

Following a 10-game winning streak, the Wheat Kings hit Red Deer on a two-game slide. Brandon lost last night in Edmonton by a 6-2 score. The Wheat Kings are only five points behind Winnipeg for the East Division lead. Red Deer has also lost its last two games, both to Calgary over the weekend. The team sits 17 points behind the Saskatoon Blades for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Spokane Chiefs (25-16-4-1) @ Kamloops Blazers (31-12-2-1) 7 PM PST

The teams meet for the third time this season with each winning one in regulation. Kamloops suffered its first loss of 2020 over the weekend. They had won nine straight. Spokane has been up and down in its last 10, resulting in a 5-5-0-0 record over that span. Spokane is 11 points back of Everett for second in the US Division, while Kamloops holds an 11 point lead over Victoria for first in the BC Division.

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