Calgary Hitmen (14-17-3-2) at Regina Pats (26-3-6-1)
Friday, Jan. 6 – 7 p.m. (Saskatchewan) / 6 p.m. (Mountain) – Brandt Centre
Channels: Local Shaw SD; Shaw HD304; Shaw Direct Satellite HD Classic120 or HD Advanced620; Access7; Access 70 (Regina)
The Calgary Hitmen will take on the Toronto Blue Jays…
Hey, wait a second… That can’t be right.
The Calgary Hitmen will face the Regina Pats on Blue Jays Night at the Brandt Centre on Friday (7 p.m. Saskatchewan/ 6 p.m. Mountain) on the WHL on Shaw and Access7.
Yes, the Regina Pats will don familiar uniforms Friday night, but it won’t be the regular blue and red of the Pats Regiment, instead pulling on the blue and white of Canada’s favourite MLB team – the Toronto Blue Jays.
— Chase Harrison (@ChaseHarrison_2) January 6, 2017
While much of the glitz and glam focuses in on the flashy baseball-themed uniforms the Pats will wear and auction off with proceeds going to the Jays Care Foundation, there will in fact be a hockey game played Friday evening in Regina.
Looking to stay alive in the WHL’s Central Division and Eastern Conference playoff race, the Hitmen cruise into Regina in search of a critical two points. As it stands, the Hitmen are seven points back of the Edmonton Oil Kings for the second wild card seed in the Eastern Conference. But with four games in hand and the Oil Kings having unloaded veteran stars Aaron Irving and Lane Bauer, there’s nothing to suggest the Hitmen can’t work their way back into the mix.
As for the Pats, they continue to roll along atop the East Division, having only lost three games in regulation so far this season. Regina has points in six consecutive outings, including three straight wins in which they’ve scored six or more goals.
Friday marks the first of four contests between the Pats and Hitmen.
Where to start with the Pats? They pack enough offensive firepower to fuel two clubs.
Sam Steel (27G-38A) and Adam Brooks (21G-44A) sit as co-leaders atop the WHL scoring charts and show no signs of slowing.
For the Hitmen, Matteo Gennaro is enjoying a solid season in his first full campaign in Calgary, having collected 35 points (14G-21A) through 33 games to date. He is supported by the trio of Beck Malenstyn (16G-9A), Jakob Stukel (12G-13A) and Jordy Stallard (7G-18A), each having contributed 25 points towards the cause.
Between the pipes, Cody Porter continues to shoulder the load for the Hitmen with a record of 11-13-2-1, a 3.40 goals-against average and .891 save percentage in 29 appearances.
For the Pats, Tyler Brown is cruising along with a record of 18-3-5-1, a 2.88 GAA, .906 SV% and two shutouts.
Following Friday’s contest in the Queen City, the Pats will visit the Hitmen at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Jan. 27.
Head coach: John Paddock
Scoring leaders: C Sam Steel (27-38-65); C Adam Brooks (21-44-65); LW Dawson Leedahl (16-32-48)
Goaltender leader: Tyler Brown (18-3-5-1, 2.88 GAA, .906 SV%, 2 SO)
Power play: First – 31.2 per cent
Penalty kill: Sixth – 82.5 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: G Jordan Hollett (lower body, two to three weeks); F Filip Ahl (returning from WJC – Sweden); D Sergey Zborovskiy (returning from WJC – Russia).
Head coach: Mark French
Scoring leaders: C Matteo Gennaro (14-21-35); LW Beck Malenstyn (16-9-25); LW Jakob Stukel (12-13-25)
Goaltender leader: Cody Porter (11-13-2-1, 3.40 GAA, .891 SV%)
Power play: 19th – 16.3 per cent
Penalty kill: 14th – 77.2 per cent
Injuries/unavailable: F Lucas Cullen (upper body, indefinite), F Tristen Nielsen (upper body, day to day); D Jake Bean (returning from WJC – Canada)
Jan. 6 – Calgary at Regina
Jan. 27 – Regina at Calgary
Feb. 8 – Regina at Calgary
March 4 – Calgary at Regina
WHL on Shaw schedule
Tuesday, Jan. 10 – Prince George Cougars at Red Deer Rebels
Saturday, Jan. 14 – Prince George Cougars at Calgary Hitmen
Tuesday, Jan. 17 – Moose Jaw Warriors at Kamloops Blazers
WHL on Access7 schedule
Saturday, Jan. 21 – Regina Pats at Swift Current Broncos
Saturday, Feb. 4 – Edmonton Oil Kings at Regina Pats
Friday, Feb. 18 – Regina Pats at Moose