Photo Credit: courtesy Calgary Hitmen

Hitmen Report: back, on a roll

The Calgary Hitmen polished off their lengthy western road trip this week and returned home for their annual anti-bullying game. They continued to amass points and officially punched their ticket for the 2020 Western Hockey League post-season.

The week that was

The Hitmen continued their western swing on Friday with a 6-5 loss in Vancouver. It was a back and forth game. The Hitmen had a 3-0 lead, had it cut to 3-2, extended it to 5-2, then managed to see their lead slip away as the game wore on. 2020 NHL Draft top prospect Justin Sourdif scored twice in the third period for Vancouver – one to tie, one to take the lead. Luke Prokop scored twice, while Mark Kastelic, Orca Wiesblatt and Kyle Olson added single goals. Goalie Jack McNaughton made 26 saves in the loss.

Calgary had a better result on Saturday in a similarly goal-filled game, beating the Blazers by a 6-4 score in Kamloops. Six different Hitmen scored – Cael Zimmerman, Riley Stotts, Riley Fiddler-Schultz, Olson, Prokop and Wiesblatt – in a game where the Hitmen never trailed. Goalie Brayden Peters made 46 saves for the victory.

On Thursday, the Hitmen returned home for their annual anti-bullying matinee game filled with thousands of local students. Appropriately, the game featured very few penalties and a Hitmen win by a 4-1 score over the Winnipeg ICE. Olson scored twice, with Kastelic and Carson Focht adding goals. Peters made 26 saves for the win.

After their win against Kamloops, the Hitmen mathematically clinched a playoff spot.

The week ahead

The playoffs are now a certainty, but now the Hitmen are jockeying to cement a specific playoff spot. They enter the weekend’s action tied with Medicine Hat with 73 points for the final divisional playoff spot – the Tigers remain ahead on a games played tiebreaker. They’re eight points up on Saskatoon for the first wildcard spot. With 10 games remaining, the Hitmen will likely finish third in the Central Division (and play Lethbridge) or get the top wildcard spot (and play Prince Albert, Brandon or Winnipeg). The wildcard spot may give them the easier path forward.

It’s another busy week for the Hitmen, including some travel! They host the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday – for draft honks, this will feature potential 2020 first rounders Ridly Greig and Braden Schneider. On Sunday Calgary hosts Lethbridge, and before the game they’ll honour long-time executive Kelly Kisio with a Forever A Hitmen banner. Then it’s back on the road for games in Prince Albert on Tuesday and in Saskatoon on Wednesday.

The playoffs are almost here!