Saturday, 28 June 2014

Five Hitmen taken in 2014 NHL Entry Draft

From the Hitmen Office:

The Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club proved to be a pipeline of talent for the 2014 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

When the dust settled on proceeding at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania five members of the Hitmen were taken by NHL teams.


Following Friday’s first round selections of Jake Virtanen, sixth overall by the Vancouver Canucks, and Travis Sanheim 17th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers, three more Hitmen had their name called on Saturday.

Ben Thomas, who was a co-winner of Hitmen Rookie of the Year honours this past season, was drafted in the fourth round, 119th overall, by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Then in the sixth round a pair of Hitmen went back-to-back with Chase Lang going 167th overall to the Minnesota Wild followed by Radel Fazleev 168th to the Philadelphia Flyers.

The five selections tied the mark for the most picks from any one team in the Canadian Hockey League this season and will go down as one of the most successful draft classes in franchise history.  Only the 1999 draft produced more NHL picks from the Hitmen with six.

“This is a memorable day in the 19 year history of the Hitmen franchise to have five players selected in the same draft, said Mike Moore, Hitmen General Manager and Vice President of Business Operations.  “We couldn’t be happier with the success of these players and the strides they have made in their pursuit of one day playing in the National Hockey League.  On behalf of the entire Calgary Flames organization, I would like to congratulate each of them on this tremendous accomplishment and commend the work of all involved in identifying their talent and influencing their development.  We have big expectations for the 2014-2015 campaign and expect all five members of this draft class to play a major role for the Hitmen as we enter our 20th anniversary season.”

Calgary Hitmen season tickets for the 20th anniversary season are available now at the Scotiabank Saddledome box office.  In appreciation for the continued support the Hitmen receive from the community, the purchase or renewal of select 2014-15 season ticket packages will include a complimentary premium 20th anniversary jersey.  For more ticket information or to order a limited edition jersey, visit www.hitmen20.com or call 403-777-4646.

Regular Season Schedule Released

I'll post the entire schedule here in the coming days but for now, here is the release from the Hitmen Office:

The Calgary Hitmen today announced the 2014-15 Western Hockey League regular season schedule.  Calgary will open their 20th anniversary season at home against the Red Deer Rebels on Saturday, September 20 at 7:00 p.m. To commemorate the milestone year, a limited edition throwback jersey that honours the team’s inaugural season and pays tribute to the club’s namesake and one of the original owners, Bret “Hitman” Hart, will be worn for the first time.  The home opener will kick off a season-long celebration of two decades of Hitmen hockey.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SCHEDULE

Of the 36 Hitmen home games, 29 will be played on the weekend with the following breakdown: Friday (8), Saturday (7) and Sunday (14).  Home game highlights include the 20th annual Petro-Canada Teddy Bear Toss on Sun., Dec. 7 versus Moose Jaw and Fan Appreciation on Sun., Mar. 22 against Kootenay.  In addition, the 2014-15 campaign will feature a Battle of Alberta doubleheader weekend on Sat., Jan. 31 when the Hitmen host the Edmonton Oil Kings at 2:00 p.m. followed by a Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers evening matchup at the ’Dome.

Calgary’s longest home stand this season spans five games; the first starts Dec. 5-17 when the Hitmen host Edmonton (twice), Moose Jaw, Kamloops and Kelowna.  The second five-game home stand runs Jan. 11-23 when Brandon, Red Deer, Victoria, Regina and Swift Current visit the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The schedule also features a season-high 11-game road trip, with stops against U.S., B.C. and Central Division rivals, beginning Feb. 20 - Mar. 14 when the city welcomes the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier.

Hitmen home games played Monday through Saturday will have a 7:00 p.m. puck drop while Sunday games will begin at 4:00 p.m., with the expectation of select weekend games starting at 1:00 p.m. or 2:00 p.m.  All Hitmen home and away games will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 960 The FAN (960 AM) or online at www.sportsnet.ca/960.

Individual game day tickets will go on sale Friday, August 22 at 10:00 a.m. at all Ticketmaster locations and the Scotiabank Saddledome box office.  Order online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1-855-985-5000.

Calgary Hitmen season tickets for the 2014-15 campaign are available now at the Scotiabank Saddledome box office or by calling 403-777-4646. In appreciation for the continued support the Hitmen receive from the community, the purchase or renewal of select 2014-15 season ticket packages will include a complimentary premium 20th anniversary jersey.  For more season ticket information or to order a limited edition 20th anniversary jersey, visit www.hitmen20.com.

The Hitmen and their charitable arm, the Calgary Hitmen Foundation will continue to touch the lives of many in the community through various game day initiatives that support grassroots and amateur sports, health and wellness and education.  During the 2013-14 season, the Calgary Hitmen Foundation provided over $190,000 to local agencies including the Calgary Board of Education, Calgary Catholic Education Foundation, Distress Centre of Calgary and Calgary Foundation’s Flood Relief Efforts.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

2014 Pre-Season Schedule Released

From the Hitmen Office:

The Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club will open the 2014 Western Hockey League pre-season on Friday, August 29 against the Regina Pats.

The Hitmen will play a total of six pre-season games against the Lethbridge Hurricanes (2), Kootenay Ice (1), Medicine Hat Tigers (1), Prince Albert Raiders (1) and Regina Pats (1).


Calgary Hitmen 2014 Pre-Season Schedule

DAY DATE OPPONENT TIME (MT) LOCATION
Fri. Aug. 29 Regina 7:00 pm Regina, SK
Sat. Aug. 30 Prince Albert 3:00 pm Regina, SK
Fri. Sep. 5 Lethbridge 7:00 pm Coaldate, AB
Sat. Sep. 6 Medicine Hat 7:00 pm High River
Sat. Sep. 13 Lethbridge 7:00 pm Coleman, AB
Sun. Sep. 14 Kootenay 2:00 pm Coleman, AB

The Hitmen will announce the 20th anniversary regular season schedule tomorrow, Wednesday, June 25, when the complete 2014-15 WHL schedule is released.

For the complete WHL Pre-Season Schedule CLICK HERE

Calgary Hitmen season tickets for the 20th anniversary season are available now at the Scotiabank Saddledome box office.  In appreciation for the continued support the Hitmen receive from the community, the purchase or renewal of select 2014-15 season ticket packages will include a complimentary premium 20th anniversary jersey.  For more ticket information or to order a limited edition 20th anniversary jersey, visit www.hitmen20.com or call 403-777-4646

Monday, 23 June 2014

Three Hitmen invited to Canada's World Junior Summer Camp

Aside from perhaps the NHL Entry draft, Greg Chase, Travis Sanheim and Jake Virtanen have all received one of the best calls any hockey player can get in the surmmer.  All three members of the Calgary Hitmen have been invited to Hockey Canada's World Junior Summer Development Camp.

The trio make up the largest contingent from any team in the WHL.  For the full roster CLICK HERE

                                          Edmonton Oilers prospect Greg Chase

Below is the official release from Hockey Canada:

Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Hockey League, announced Monday a roster of 41 players that have been invited to Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp, set for Aug. 3-8 in Brossard, Montreal and Sherbrooke, Que.

Canada’s roster, comprised of four goaltenders, 12 defencemen and 25 forwards, was selected by Ryan Jankowski, head scout of men’s national teams for Hockey Canada, along with Hockey Canada vice-president of hockey operations and national teams Scott Salmond and the Program of Excellence management group, including Sean Burke and Bruce Hamilton.

Jankowski will continue to monitor these players and other potential candidates during the first few months of the 2014-15 season and at the CHL Subway Super Series to determine who will be invited to Canada’s National Junior Team selection camp in December. In total, 22 players will be selected to represent Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2014 to Jan. 5, 2014 in Montreal, Que. and Toronto, Ont.

“I would like to congratulate the players selected today to attend the development camp,” said Jankowski. “This is a first step towards being chosen to represent Canada at the World Juniors, but these 41 players have the first opportunity to show the coaching staff how they can help Canada succeed in Toronto and Montreal at Christmas.”

Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp attendees will gather in Brossard at the Montreal Canadiens’ practice facility for practices on Aug. 3 before playing the national junior teams of the Czech Republic and Russia.

A number of the players on the summer development camp roster will be front and centre at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft on June 27-28 in Philadelphia, where many are expected to be selected in the first and second rounds.

Hitmen ink their third round pick from 2014

From the Hitmen Office:

he Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club is proud to announce forward Matt Dorsey, a 2014 third-round selection, has signed a WHL Standard Player Agreement with the team.

Dorsey, a 6-1, 160-pound right winger from Wenatchee, Washington, recorded 32 goals and 20 assists for 52 points along with 56 penalty minutes in 30 games with the Arizona Bobcats (Tier 1 Bantam AAA) last season.  Dorsey will play next season with the Everett Junior Silvertips Midget AAA team.

“We are extremely excited to have Matt join the Hitmen organization,” said Mike Moore, Hitmen general manager and vice president of business operations.  “He is a gifted player that possesses terrific puck skills and skating ability as well as exceptional hockey sense, size and commitment to his ongoing development.  Hitmen fans will certainly appreciate the talent level of this young man.”

“The feeling of belonging to such a great organization and hockey club is beyond amazing,” said Dorsey.  “There is no other team in the Western Hockey League that I’d rather spend my junior career with.  It is a huge honour for me and I look forward to attending my first training camp this August.”

Calgary Hitmen season tickets for the 20th anniversary season are available now at the Scotiabank Saddledome box office.  In appreciation for the continued support the Hitmen receive from the community, the purchase or renewal of select 2014-15 season ticket packages will include a complimentary premium 20th anniversary jersey.  For more ticket information or to order a limited edition jersey, visit www.hitmen20.com or call 403-777-4646.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Mark French named Hitmen Head Coach

From the Hitmen Office:

CALGARY, AB - The Calgary Hitmen today announced the Western Hockey League club has named Mark French as head coach.  Also, associate coach Brent Kisio has been appointed to assistant general manager in addition to his coaching role.  French, Kisio, assistant coach Joel Otto and goaltending coach Darcy Wakaluk will form the Hitmen coaching staff for the 2014-15 season.

French joins the Hitmen following a season with the Medvescak Zagreb of the KHL, where he guided the expansion team to the playoffs after a 92-point regular season that included setting a league record for most consecutive wins by a debut team at eight.


“Mark comes to us with tremendous coaching experience from all levels of hockey and is a proven winner,” said Mike Moore, Hitmen general manager and vice president of business operations. “He is a teacher of the game, has a passion and commitment to the development of players and is well respected in hockey circles.  We are fortunate that Mark identified the Calgary Hitmen as a great opportunity for his coaching career and that he and his family were willing to come here from Croatia.  We are grateful for the cooperation from his former team, the Medvescak Zagreb, and look forward to watching our team develop and succeed under his leadership and direction.”

French, a native of Milton, Ontario, brings a wealth of experience and winning to the Hitmen having been both a head coach and an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears for six seasons.  Named an assistant coach with Hershey during the 2007-08 season, French helped guide the Bears to the their 10th league title in 2009; and in 2010, in his first season as head coach, led Hershey to their second-straight Calder Cup and 11th in franchise history.

In addition, French guided the Bears to a league-record 60 wins and franchise-record 123 points in 2009-10 and, during the 2010-11 season, reached 100 wins faster than any coach in AHL history (100-39-1-7). At the reins from 2009-13, he compiled a 180-100-10-22 regular season record, which ranks fifth in all-time club wins, while his .628 points percentage sits third in franchise history.

"Not only am I honoured to be named the head coach of the Calgary Hitmen, but I am excited to lead them into their 20th anniversary season in the Western Hockey League,” said French, now the eighth head coach in franchise history.  “The Hitmen are an organization known for their strong foundation, history of success and passionate fans.  I look forward to working with the talented players the front office staff has assembled and I am grateful for the opportunity."

French began his coaching career with Brock University in September 1996 and in August 1999 moved into the role of assistant coach and assistant general manager with the OHL’s North Bay Centennials for three seasons. From 2002-04, French was the head coach at Wilfrid Laurier University and, prior to his record-setting coaching role with Hershey, he was assistant coach with the ECHL’s Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2004-05 and head coach and director of hockey operations for the Wichita Thunder of the Central Hockey League from 2005-07.  In June 2013, he signed as head coach with the Medvescak Zagreb in Croatia.

French and his wife, Kimberly, have a daughter, Ellie and son, William.

Kisio, entering his eighth season with the Hitmen, joined the WHL club in August 2007 as video coach and assistant coach after four successful years at the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he played for the Mavericks (NCAA) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminology.  Following the 2007-08 season, Kisio moved exclusively into the role of assistant coach and in October 2012 was appointed associate coach.  In 2009-10, Kisio helped guide Calgary to their second WHL championship title after finishing atop the regular season standings with 52 wins and 107 points.

“Brent is a tireless worker committed to the success of the Hitmen franchise both on and off of the ice,” said Moore.  “Along with his coaching talent, he has provided support for a number of years in the planning of team travel, pre-scouting of teams and players and hockey administrative functions.  We are continually seeking new methods and opportunities for the future success of our team in our community and Brent’s support will be a valuable asset in meeting these demands.”

Kisio and his wife, Abby, and have a daughter, Summer and son, Owen and are expecting their third child in July.

WHL AGM produces new playoff format

From the WHL Office:

Vancouver, BC - A new playoff format for the Western Hockey League topped the list of items at this year’s WHL Annual General Meeting, which concluded today in Vancouver. The new playoff format, which is identical to the new playoff format introduced by the NHL this past season,  was approved by the Board of Governors and will be in place for the next three seasons starting with the 2014-15 season.

“We believe the new format is a hybrid of the WHL’s previous Conference and Divisional formats,” said WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “This will allow us to feature our regional rivalries in the playoffs and offer the most fair and competitive path to the WHL Championship.”


The new format will see the top three teams in each Division make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed teams in each Conference, based on their regular-season record and regardless of Division. It is possible for one Division in each Conference to send five teams to the postseason while the other Division sends just three.

In the First Round, the Division winner with the best record in each Conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the lesser record; the wild card team with the better record will play the other Division winner.

The teams finishing second and third in each Division will meet in the First Round within the bracket headed by their respective division winners. First-round winners within each bracket play one another in the Second Round to determine the four participants in the Conference Finals.

Home-ice advantage through the first two rounds goes to the team that placed higher in the regular-season standings. In the Conference Finals and WHL Championship Series, home-ice advantage goes to the team that had the better regular-season record - regardless of the teams' final standing in their respective Divisions.

In addition, any ties in the final regular season standings will be determined as per WHL Regulations, and if an East Division Club is involved in the WHL Championship Series, the Series will utilize a 2 - 3 - 2 format.

Other matters adopted by the WHL Board of Governors in preparation for the 2014-15 season included the following:

WHL Milestone Awards – the WHL will officially recognize special achievements by the following participants: coaches, players, goaltenders, athletic therapists / trainers and on-ice officials during their careers in the WHL.

WHL Chairman of the Board/ Executive Committee Appointments - Bruce Hamilton has been re-elected as WHL Chairman of the Board for another two year term. No other Chairman of the Board in WHL history has served more years at the helm than Hamilton, who is now entering his seventh term (1998-2004 and 2008-present). Patrick LaForge of the Edmonton Oil Kings (Central Division) and Russ Farwell of the Seattle Thunderbirds (U.S. Division) have also been re-elected to the WHL's Executive Committee for two year terms. Ron Toigo of Vancouver Giants (BC Division) and Gord Broda (East Division) will continue to serve as the other members of the WHL Executive Committee.

The WHL has also announced that the 2014-15 Pre-Season schedule will be released on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, with the 2014-15 Regular Season schedule to follow on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

Two Hitmen prospects invited to U-17 Camp

From the Hitmen Office:

CALGARY, AB - The Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club would like to congratulate Beck Malenstyn and Jake Bean on being selected to attend Canada’s national under-17 development camp, held July 29 - August 4 at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary.  

Malenstyn and Bean are two of 96 skaters (36 defencemen and 60 forwards) invited to the camp.  The players were selected by Ryan Jankowski, Hockey Canada's head scout of men's national teams, together with regional scouts Donald Audette (Quebec), Brad McEwen (West), Kevin Mitchell (Atlantic) and Darryl Woodley (Ontario) with input from Hockey Canada regional branch representatives. Players were evaluated throughout the season with their club teams, and at three regional under-16 events: the Western Canada U16 Challenge, OHL Gold Cup and QMJHL Excellence Challenge.

                                      Jake Bean                                   Beck Malenstyn

Malenstyn, a 6-0, 170-pound forward from Delta, British Columbia, spent the majority of the 2013-14 season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy Midget Prep, recording 33 goals and 26 assists for 59 points in 45 games played. Selected by Calgary in the first round, 18th overall, in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, Malenstyn joined the Hitmen for five games last season, adding three assists over that span.

Bean, a 6-0, 170-pound defenceman, appeared in 57 games with the Edge School Elite 15 in 2013-14 and finished the season as the team’s top point-producing defenceman with 27 goals and 42 assists.  In February, the Calgary, Alberta product received the Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s Elite 15 Top Defenceman award.

The development camp will serve as part of Canada’s new under-17 structure, focusing on player development. Scouts will continue to watch these players, along with other 1998-born players across the country, and 66 will be selected to represent Canada at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, which is scheduled for October 31 - November 8 in a yet-to-be-determined location. The tournament will be the first to feature three Canadian national teams (Black, Red and White). From 1986 to 2014, Canada was represented by five regional teams: Atlantic, Ontario, Pacific, Quebec and West.

All 96 skaters have been drafted or listed by CHL teams, including 35 from the Ontario Hockey League, 32 from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and 29 from the Western Hockey League.  To view the complete development camp roster, visit www.hockeycanada.ca.

Calgary Hitmen season tickets for the 20th anniversary season are available now at the Scotiabank Saddledome box office.  In appreciation for the continued support the Hitmen receive from the community, the purchase or renewal of select 2014-15 season ticket packages will include a complimentary premium 20th anniversary jersey.  For more ticket information or to order a limited edition jersey, visit www.hitmen20.com or call 403-777-4646.

Hitmen ink their top pick from 2014 Bantam Draft

From the Hitmen Office:

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club is pleased to announce Mark Kastelic, selected 41st overall in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, has signed a WHL Standard Player Agreement.

Kastelic, a 6-1, 175-pound centreman from Phoenix, Arizona, recorded 22 goals and 16 assists for 38 points along with 58 penalty minutes in 38 games with the Phoenix Junior Coyotes (Tier 1 Bantam AAA) last season.  This summer, Kastelic will attend the U15 USA Hockey National camp, held July 14-20 at the Northtown Center at Amherst in Amherst, NY.

“This is a terrific day for the Calgary Hitmen,” commented Mike Moore, Hitmen General Manager and Vice President of Business Operations.  “We had the pleasure of spending time with Mark and his family and the opportunity to introduce a skilled, passionate and mature young man into our organization speaks loudly to the future of our team.”

“I'm extremely grateful and honoured to have signed with the Calgary Hitmen and am looking forward to the opportunity to continue my hockey career with this great organization,” said Kastelic, who will be in Calgary on August 21 for the start of training camp. “It's going to be an amazing experience to be able to play in the ’Dome in a hockey town like Calgary.”

Calgary Hitmen season tickets for the 20th anniversary season are available now at the Scotiabank Saddledome box office.  In appreciation for the continued support the Hitmen receive from the community, the purchase or renewal of select 2014-15 season ticket packages will include a complimentary premium 20th anniversary jersey.  For more ticket information or to order a limited edition jersey, visit www.hitmen20.com or call 403-777-4646.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Jake Virtanen Undergoes Successful Shoulder Surgery

From the Hitmen Office:

The Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club today announced forward Jake Virtanen underwent successful shoulder surgery to repair damage sustained in the 2013-14 Western Hockey League regular season.  The recovery period is expected to be four to six months.

Virtanen will join teammates Ben Thomas and Travis Sanheim at the NHL Scouting Combine next week in Toronto, Ontario, but will not participate in the fitness portion, held May 31 at Toronto International Centre.