A week ago, the Calgary Hitmen found ways to lose games. Now on the road for a lengthy trip through the scenic climes of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the Western Hockey League club is finding ways to grab points by hook or crook.
The week that was
The Hitmen spent the entire week in Saskatchewan, where they played three games.
On Saturday, the Hitmen visited the Saskatoon Blades and won 4-1. Captain (and Ottawa Senators pick) Mark Kastelic scored twice while Josh Prokop and Hunter Campbell added goals of their own. It was a tight-checking game, as Hitmen netminder Jack McNaughton (a 2020 NHL Draft prospect) required just 18 saves to pick up the victory.
On Sunday, the Hitmen headed to a challenging building for them when they visited the powerhouse Prince Albert Raiders. The bad news is they lost, but the good news is they took the defending WHL Champions to overtime and picked up a point in a 5-4 OT setback. The Hitmen got goals from Blake Allan, Riely Stotts, Adam Kydd and Prokop, but couldn’t withstand the Raiders’ third period push to force overtime. Raiders forward Ozzy Wiesblatt, a prospective first round NHL Draft pick this summer, had a pair of goals to force overtime and then win it in the extra frame. Hitmen netminder Brayden Peters (also a 2020 NHL Draft prospect) made 22 saves.
Finally, Wednesday’s game in Regina was the Kastelic Show. He had two goals and two assists in a 4-2 Hitmen victory over the Pats. Jett Woo and Stotts had the non-Kastelic goals. McNaughton was much busier than he was in Saskatoon, making 31 saves for the victory.
The week ahead
The Hitmen head into this weekend with a pretty favourable record. They’re 11-6-2-1, good for fourth in the Central Division (well ahead of Red Deer and Swift Current) and holding down a wildcard playoff spot. They’re within striking distance of a divisional playoff spot, which is a fairly good place to be.
They polish off their road trip with games Friday (in Brandon) and Saturday (in Moose Jaw). Then it’s back home.
Hitmen captain Mark Kastelic is 30th in the WHL in points right now with 21 points in 16 games. But he’s two goals off the league lead and has 15 goals in 16 games. The sample size is small, but he’s a potent offensive player at the major junior level.
The Teddy Bear Toss is next Sunday. Go get your tickets.