The Calgary Hitmen returned to their roots this past week, as they played a pair of games in the cozy confines of the historic Stampede Corral. While the atmosphere may have been nostalgic, the results were tremendously important to the Hitmen’s goal of moving up the Western Hockey League’s standings.
Hitmen roster news
The carousel of backup goaltenders has finally ended, as Carl Stankowski returned from his lower body injury on Wednesday when he dressed as backup against Regina.
2018 second rounder Tyson Galloway made his WHL debut against Regina. That follows in the wake of 2018 first rounder Sean Tschigerl debuting in mid-January. Both are temporarily with the Hitmen as they work through some injuries, and they’ll both be headed back to bantam when everyone gets healthy.
The week that was
Friday: 6-5 overtime loss to Brandon
The Hitmen wore Calgary Centennials jerseys in the first Corral Series game. They got two goals apiece from captain Mark Kastelic and Luke Coleman, with the other marker from Tye Carriere. Carolina Hurricanes prospect Stelio Mattheos and Ben McCartney led the Wheaties with three points each. Calgary’s Jack McNaughton made 32 saves to capture a key point, while Brandon’s Ethan Kruger made 27 saves for the win.
Saturday: 5-1 win in Red Deer
In a crucial game in the divisional and wildcard playoff race, the Hitmen got two goals from Kastelic, and one apiece from Carson Focht, Kaden Elder and James Malm. McNaughton made 23 saves for the win, while Rebels netminder Byron Fancy made 33 but took the loss.
Wednesday: 4-3 win over Regina
Wearing Calgary Cowboys sweaters in the second game of the Corral Series, the Hitmen got a late goal from Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Riley Stotts to capture two big points. They also received two goals from Elder and one from Kastelic, while all three Regina goals came from a hat trick by Ty Kolle. McNaughton made 33 saves for the W, while Pats goalie Max Paddock stopped 34 pucks.
Looking ahead to next week
The Hitmen are now 27-19-5. They’re eight points up on Brandon for the last wildcard spots, but the Wheaties have a game in hand. But more importantly the Hitmen are tied with Red Deer for the first wildcard spot (the Rebels have two games in hand), and they’re three points behind Medicine Hat for third place in the Central Division and four points back of Lethbridge for second place.
The Corral Series concludes on Friday as the Hitmen (in Wranglers gear) play the WHL-leading Prince Albert Raiders. Then they host Moose Jaw on Sunday before heading to Lethbridge on Wednesday night.