0Riley Stotts
Photo Credit: Candice Ward/Calgary Hitmen

Hitmen Report: a productive trip westward

The Calgary Hitmen finished off a lengthy western road trip this week. The good news for them is they made the most of their time away from Alberta.

Hitmen news this week

The Hitmen got a bit of bad injury news this week:

The news initially broke early Tuesday with the release of the WHL’s Weekly Report, which listed Stankowski ominously as out indefinitely with a lower body injury. Given his medical history – he was sidelined for the entire 2017-18 season with an autoimmune issue called Ankylosing Spondylitis – the junior hockey community breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t related to that malady.

Losing Stankowski is a big blow, but it’s not necessarily back-breaking. He’s posted a 6-6-2 record with a 3.72 goals against average and .879 save percentage this season, but backup Jack McNaughton has actually posted better numbers: he’s 4-6-2, with a 3.35 goals against average and .890 save percentage.

The Teddy Bear Toss game against Kamloops on Sunday, Dec. 9 is almost entirely sold out. There are a good number of tickets available for the three Corral Series games in February – Friday, Feb. 1 vs. Brandon; Wednesday, Feb. 6 vs. Regina; and Friday, Feb. 8 against Prince Albert – they might be the last games of note to be held at the historic Stampede Corral.

The week that was

Friday: won 5-2 in Seattle

Stankowski made 24 saves in his first game in Seattle – okay, Kent – since May 12, 2017 to pick up a big two points for the Hitmen. Run support came in the form of two goals each from captain Mark Kastelic and Luke Coleman, and a goal from Carson Focht.

Saturday: lost 3-2 in Tri-City (in a shootout)

Goals from Focht and Riley Stotts spotted the Hitmen a 2-0 lead, but Tri-City came back in the third to force extra time – including the game-tying goal with 1:24 remaining from 2019 NHL Draft prospect Sasha Mutala. Tri-City’s Beck Warm made 38 saves for the win and Jack McNaughton made 29 saves for the extra time loss.

Coming up

The Hitmen still have a game left on their road trip, but they just finished up a long stretch away from Alberta. They played six in a row on the road and managed to string together a 4-1-1 record during that trip. For a team that’s been very “win-one, lose-one” this season after a really slow start, it’s gotten them within spitting distance of .500. They head into the weekend 10-13-3, just two points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers for the last wild card playoff spot.

Calgary returns home for a three-in-three stretch. They’re in Red Deer on Friday to face the Rebels, then host the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday night and the Moose Jaw Warriors on Sunday afternoon.