Kelowna Rockets (20-12-2-0) at Calgary Hitmen (12-15-2-0)
Saturday, Dec. 17 – 7 p.m. (Mountain) / 6 p.m. (Pacific) – Scotiabank Saddledome
Channels: Local Shaw SD; Shaw HD 304
The Kelowna Rockets blast into the Scotiabank Saddledome for a Christmastime clash with the Calgary Hitmen Saturday night (7 p.m. Mountain) on WHL on Shaw.
The Rockets are nearing the end of a lengthy seven-game road trip that has taken them as far south as Kennewick, Wash., and will end in the far northern reaches of Alberta’s capital city Sunday afternoon. Friday night, it was rookie goaltender Brodan Salmond making 34 saves as the Rockets blanked the Red Deer Rebels by a 3-0 margin, so bus legs and road weariness need not apply, at least to this point.
The Hitmen enjoyed a chilly Friday night away from the rink and haven’t played since last Sunday when they scored a 3-2 shootout win against the Kamloops Blazers.
Saturday night marks the first of two meetings this season between the Rockets and Hitmen.
Kole Lind, an 18-year-old product of Shaunavon, Sask., fuels the Rockets offense having registered a career high 19 goals and 43 points through 33 games this season. The import supporting cast of Calvin Thurkauf (17-14-31) and Tomas Soustal (12-19-31) has departed for World Junior Championship preparations with each of their respective nations, so there is certainly some firepower missing from the Rockets attack.
For the Hitmen, Winnipeg Jets prospect Matteo Gennaro paces the offense with 26 points (11G-15A) through 26 games. He’s joined by fellow Jets prospect Jordy Stallard, who has tallied 21 points (5G-16A) in 23 games.
Between the Kelowna pipes, the 18-year-old Salmond is coming off a strong performance and has maintained a record of 5-4-1-0 with a 3.08 goals-against average, .892 save percentage and one shutout through 11 appearances this season. That being said, Michael Herringer has been the workhorse, with a record a 15-8-1-0, 3.03 GAA, .899 SV% and one shutout in 26 outings.
At the Calgary end of the equation, Cody Porter carries a record of 9-11-1-0 with a 3.34 GAA and .893 SV%, while Kyle Dumba is 3-4-1-0 with a 4.09 GAA and .847 SV%.
Following Saturday’s funfest in Calgary, the two teams will meet one final time this season on Feb. 1 when the Hitmen travel to Kelowna.
Head coach: Mark French
Scoring leaders: C Matteo Gennaro (11-15-26); C Jordy Stallard (5-16-21); LW Beck Malenstyn (10-6-16)
Goaltending leader: Cody Porter (9-11-1-0, 3.34 GAA, .893 SV%)
Power play: 20th – 15.1 per cent
Penalty kill: T-13th – 78.0 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: F Lucas Cullen (upper body, day to day); F Tristen Nielsen (upper body, indefinite); D Jake Bean (WJC – Canada); D Vladislav Yeryomenko (WJC Div. 1 – Belarus)
Head coach: Jason Smith
Scoring leaders: RW Kole Lind (19-24-43); LW Calvin Thurkauf (17-14-31); C Tomas Soustal (12-19-31)
Goaltending leader: Michael Herringer (15-8-1-0, 3.03 GAA, .899 SV%, 1 SO)
Power play: 10th – 21.9 per cent
Penalty kill: 18th – 75.8 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: F Jordan Borstmayer (upper body, week to week); D Gordie Ballhorn (lower body, four weeks); F Dillon Dube (WJC – Canada); F Tomas Soustal (WJC – Czech Republic); F Calvin Thurkauf (WJC – Switzerland)
Dec. 16 – Kelowna at Calgary
Feb. 1 – Calgary at Kelowna