Pats, Hitmen set to square off Wednesday on TSN

Candice Ward

The Regina Pats and Calgary Hitmen will be in the national spotlight in front of what’s expected to be a capacity crowd at Scotiabank Saddledome Wednesday.

Regina (22-21-2-1) visits Calgary (23-17-5-1) in a contest that marks the first of three WHL regular season affairs broadcast nationally on TSN.

The focus naturally falls on Pats captain Connor Bedard, who earlier Wednesday was named the McSweeney’s WHL Player of the Month for January after an eye-popping 16 goals and 24 points in seven games.

Bedard, the top-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting ahead of the 2023 NHL Draft, leads the WHL with 43 goals and 88 points this season, and comes into Wednesday’s game on goal and point streaks of 10 and 34 games, respectively.

Regina, who sit tied for seventh in the Eastern Conference with the Swift Current Broncos, opened an Alberta road swing Tuesday with a 6-5 overtime setback in Red Deer. Bedard factored in with a goal and two assists while linemate Tanner Howe had four helpers.

On the other side, the Hitmen have been in the top half of the Central Division all season long, entering play Wednesday five points back of the Lethbridge Hurricanes for second spot in the division.

The Hitmen have been paced offensively by captain Riley Fiddler-Schultz, whose 23 goals this season are only five fewer than the 28 he recorded in the entire 2021-22 campaign.

2023 NHL Draft prospects Oliver Tulk (41 points) and Grayden Siepmann (35 points) round out Calgary’s top three scoring leaders, with Siepmann sitting only behind Red Deer’s Christoffer Sedoff among defencemen scorers in the Central Division.

Tulk, meanwhile, led the Hitmen with six goals in January, finishing tied with Fiddler-Schultz for the team scoring lead with 11 points last month.

Wednesday’s contest marks the final regular season meeting between Regina and Calgary, with the home team having won each of the three prior engagements including a 7-3 Hitmen victory October 2, 2022.

Bedard marked his return to the Pats lineup after winning World Juniors gold against Calgary in the mmost recent meeting January 8, scoring four times and totalling six points in a 6-2 Regina win at the Brandt Centre.

He leads all scorers in the season series with four goals and seven points, with teammate and Washington Capitals prospect Alexander Suzdalev close behind with three tallies and five points against the Hitmen.

Drew Sim has earned both victories in goal for the Pats versus the Hitmen, while counterpart Brayden Peters holds a .900 save percentage in his two outings against Regina to go along with a 1-1-0-0 record.

Watch Wednesday’s game live on TSN 1/3 in Canada, and on NHL Network in the United States, beginning at 7:00 p.m. MT.

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