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Last year’s ‘sour taste’ ignites Calgary Hitmen for 2022-23 WHL season

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Start strong…

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stay strong.

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The Calgary Hitmen are gearing up for the 2022-23 Western Hockey League campaign.

It stems from last year’s ugly opening, which ultimately helped determine their fate of missing the playoffs, and a desire to right an entire season’s wrongs by at least winning the WHL Championship.

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Reflecting on last fall’s 9-2, 4-1 losses to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the first weekend of the regular season, Hitmen goalie Brayden Peters said: “His first two games weren’t what we wanted.

“So right now we can’t get ahead of this weekend[season start]. We obviously have long-term goals. But for now, we have to come together every night to prove it. You can look ahead, but it should only be about the next game.”

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The obvious long-term prospects are playoff berths, and they sidestepped them last year, even though the first part of the schedule looked promising.

Winning just 11 of their final 37 games, the Hitmen struggled to finish with a sub-par record of 25-34-7-2, taking just 2 points from their postseason positions in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. Did.

A year older, wiser, and still bitten by the bitterness of the end of the season.

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“Right now, with the attitude that we’ve improved and that we’ll prove to everyone that we deserved to make the playoffs last year, I think it’s there,” said Peters, a product of Taber, Alta. “We weren’t two points behind, which left us with a sour taste to finish the season.”

His partner at the Net, Ethan Buenaventura, is of a similar mindset.

“The end goal is to win the championship and it’s hard when you don’t even get the chance to play in the playoffs,” said the Winnipeg native, who was selected in the 4th round of the 2019 draft by The Hitmen. We had a pretty sour taste in our mouths last year and I think we all definitely made it to the playoffs and did better than we did. I know you took the offseason very seriously and we have some things to prove in the league this year.”

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It starts with two Twinminders.

The Hurricanes have a shot at Hitmen goaltender Ethan Buenaventura during the second period of action as the Calgary Hitmen host the Lethbridge Hurricanes at the Saddledome for their final game of the season. April 17, 2022. Brendan Miller/Postmedia
The Hurricanes have a shot at Hitmen goaltender Ethan Buenaventura during the second period of action as the Calgary Hitmen host the Lethbridge Hurricanes at the Saddledome for their final game of the season. April 17, 2022. Brendan Miller/Postmedia Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Peters (just out of rookie camp with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks) and Buenaventura provide a final 1-2 defensive line that few rivals can match.

And that’s further heightened by the club’s backbone, the Blue Line Legion, who returned unscathed from last year. Also included are three 19-year-old defenders: Blake Heward, Keegan Slaney, and Trey Patterson.

“I think the biggest key is just the competition they hold every night,” said Buenaventura of his d-men. “We know they push us every game. You can trust them for little things like being able to see the puck from the points. So we put our trust in them, and they put that trust in us, and that’s a big thing.”

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Next is whether Hitman can support the goalie on the scoreboard. Offensively he’s past stars Sean Chigerl and Riley Fidler Schultz, both still at his NHL camps in St. Louis and Los Angeles, but the forward group is a bit of a question mark offensively.

Last winter, Zak Funk, a 2018 Hitmen draft pick, scored 22 goals — one behind Chigerl (23) and six behind snipe leader Fidler Schultz (28) — lesser-known. Delivering the best promise of not-so-forward forwards.

Peters, a fifth-rounder in the 2017 Hitmen, said, “We’ve got high-end forwards like Chihigs and Fizzus here, and so many guys who’ve progressed over the last year will be taking on higher roles. “Up front players seem ready to take that step and take on additional responsibilities and additional playing time.

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“I fully believe our forward will step up and fill those roles.”

And hopefully fill the net — with timely packs, if not many packs.

Given what looks like a solid backend, Hitman probably doesn’t need to be high-octane.

However, they are hoping to be the winners with more seasoned populations up and down the roster.

“We feel like we’ve been known to be a more experienced team this year,” Peters said. “There are very few first-year players coming into the league.Everyone who was here last year, and even the new ones, had some experiences last year that they didn’t get the chance to have in the year of COVID.

“In this room, we have all our beliefs in ourselves. I can prove that

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And let’s go back to the playoffs.

“We want to take a big step forward as a team,” added Buenaventura. “We can be one of the top teams in the conference. We can win more games this year and make the playoffs. And maybe we’re not looking as high as we’d like to see, but that’s totally fine with us, and being one of the top teams in the conference is really important to us. After taste, everyone wants this year to be worse.

“Hitmen fans should be excited about what we have in store for them this year. It’s going to be an exciting year to watch us.”

loose pack

The Hitmen finished the preseason with a 4-0 record after winning two each against the Red Deer Rivals and the Edmonton Oil Kings. The club traded Mason Finley to the Kings this week in exchange for a conditional eight rounds. Drafted in the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft. The 2004-born forward from Kelowna, British Columbia was drafted by the Hitmen in the fifth round of the 2019 Pick’em and has appeared in 40 games in the 2021-22 season, scoring two goals and scoring 11. This year, the Hitmen will play six out of the Twina Sevens He Chiefs Sportsplex, starting on the November 2nd and November 4th dates. Others are scheduled for January 18th, January 28th, February 19th and February 25th.

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tsaelhof@postmedia.com

www.twitter.com/Todd SaelhofPM

2022-23 Hitmen

forward

9. Bilal Nouri RW 2004

11. Matteo Danis Ha Year 2005

14. Tomis Marinkovic Ha 2004

15. Maxim Muranov LW 2004

16. Carson Wetch Ha 2006

17. David Adazinski LW Year 2005

18. Ethan Moore LW Year 2005

19. Sean Chigel LW 2003

twenty one. Riley Fiddler-Schultz Ha 2002

twenty three. steel quilling RW 2003

twenty four. Zack Funk RW 2003

27. Brandon Wynot LW 2004

32. London Howlett RW Year 2005

34. Chase Valiant RW 2006

37. Oliver Talc Ha Year 2005

defense man

2. Dax Williams L. Year 2005

3. Trey Patterson L. 2003

Four. Blake Howard R. 2003

7. Keegan Slaney L. 2003

8. Grayden Sheepman R. 2004

12. vojtek hucinecki R. Year 2005

twenty two. Tyson Galloway L. 2003

26. Carter Yakemchuk R. Year 2005

28. Matthew Sutter L. 2004

goalie

29. Ethan Buenaventura L. 2004

31. Alex Garrett R. Year 2005

35. Braden Peters L. 2002

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Last year’s ‘sour taste’ ignites Calgary Hitmen for 2022-23 WHL season

Source link Last year’s ‘sour taste’ ignites Calgary Hitmen for 2022-23 WHL season

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