Hitmen host Tigers in Central Division clash on WHL on Shaw

Candice Ward


Medicine Hat Tigers (38-16-1-0)
at Calgary Hitmen (19-25-7-2)

Friday, Feb. 10 – 7 p.m. (Mountain)
Scotiabank Saddledome

Channels: Local Shaw SD; Shaw HD304; Shaw Direct Satellite Classic HD 120 or Advanced 620


Winners of eight of their previous 10 outings, the Medicine Hat Tigers roar into Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome for a tilt with the Hitmen Friday night on WHL on Shaw.

Doing all they can to hold off the charging Lethbridge Hurricanes in the race for the Central Division title, the Tigers are winners of two straight and hold a six-point lead on the Hurricanes. But Lethbridge carries one game in hand and has collected points in 14 consecutive dates, including 12 wins.

As for the Hitmen, they’re fighting tooth and nail for playoff positioning as well, sitting one point back of the Saskatoon Blades for the final wild card seed in the Eastern Conference.

With the Tigers having moved into the CHL Top 10 this week, Friday’s task won’t be an easy one for the Hitmen.

Matteo Gennaro – the WHL Player of the Month for January – continues to lead the Calgary scoring charge with career bests across the board, having scored 61 points (33G-28A) in 50 games this season. The 19-year-old product of St. Albert, Alta., and prospect of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets (2015 – seventh, 203rd) rattled off an astounding 20 goals and 29 points in 15 games during the month of January and has another two goals and three points in four outings to open the month of February.

Chad Butcher and Mason Shaw continue to go back-and-forth as they duke it out for the Tigers’ scoring lead. The 21-year-old Butcher – a product of Kamloops, B.C. – has secured a career-high 79 points (22G-57A) in 51 contests this season, while the 2017 NHL Draft-eligible Shaw – an 18-year-old product of Wainwright, Alta. – is also enjoying a career year with 78 points (21G-57A) in 54 games.

Veteran goaltender Trevor Martin carries the reigns for the Hitmen with workhorse Cody Porter out of action due to an upper-body injury. Since coming back to the WHL after a short stint in the QMJHL, the 21-year-old product of Ardrossan, Alta., is 5-5-3-0 with a 4.39 goals-against average and .848 save percentage.

Nick Schneider has seen the bulk of the starts in net this season for Medicine Hat, appearing in 42 games with a record of 28-10-1-0, 3.36 GAA and .889 SV%, but it’s newcomer Michael Bullion who has seen the majority share so far in February. The 19-year-old product of Anchorage, Alaska, has been in the blue paint for three of his team’s four contests in February. In 23 appearances this season, he carries an overall record of 13-7-1-0 with s 3.38 GAAA and .891 SV%.

Friday marks the fifth of six meetings this season between the Hitmen and Tigers.

The last time these two teams met, the Tigers eked out a 3-2 win on Dec. 28 at the Saddledome, in which Gary Haden, Zach Fischer and David Quenneville provided the scoring as Schneider steered aside 40 pucks for the win.

The Tigers will of course be without the services of Quenneville, as he remains unavailable due to a lower-body injury.

The Hitmen and Tigers will wrap up their 2016-17 season series on Feb. 24 back at the Saddledome in Calgary.

Calgary Hitmen

Record: 19-25-7-2
Head coach: Mark French
Leading scorers: C Matteo Gennaro (33-28-61); LW Beck Malenstyn (22-18-40); LW Jakob Stukel (17-23-40)
Leading goaltender: Kyle Dumba (19GP, 3-6-2-1, 4.26 GAA, .852 SV%)
Power play: T-17th – 17.9 per cent
Penalty kill: T-20th – 74.9 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: F Lucas Cullen (upper body, indefinite); F Matt Dorsey (upper body, indefinite); F Andrew Fyten (upper body, one week); G Cody Porter (upper body, four to eight weeks)

Medicine Hat Tigers

Record: 38-16-1-0
Head coach: Shaun Clouston
Leading scorers: RW Chad Butcher (22-57-79); C Mason Shaw (21-57-78); C Steven Owre (19-44-63)
Leading goaltender: Nick Schneider (42GP, 28-10-1-0, 3.36 GAA, .889 SV%)
Power play: Second – 27.8 per cent
Penalty kill: 10th – 79.9 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: D David Quenneville (lower body, seven to 10 days); D Ty Schultz (lower body, four to five weeks)

Season series

Oct. 14 – Calgary (2) at Medicine Hat (7)
Dec. 10 – Calgary (4) at Medicine Hat (7)
Dec. 27 – Calgary (4) at Medicine Hat (5) – SO
Dec. 28 – Medicine Hat (3) at Calgary (2)
Feb. 10 – Medicine Hat at Calgary
Feb. 24 – Medicine Hat at Calgary

WHL on Shaw schedule

Friday, Feb. 17 – Victoria Royals at Lethbridge Hurricanes
Wednesday, Feb. 22 – Regina Pats at Saskatoon Blades
Friday, Feb. 24 – Kelowna Rockets at Kamloops Blazers

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