2010 Calgary Hitmen Playoff Video

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hitmen open preseason

The Calgary Hitmen have trimmed their roster down to 32 players and will open up the preseason Wednesday night in Airdrie against the much hated Red Deer Rebels.

There are battles going on at every position with a handful of returning players in the mix; a group that includes second year defencemen Peter Kosterman and Jaynen Rissling.

Both of these 2009 Bantam draft picks were not even expected to make the squad last season but surprised even themselves when they were suiting up for the Hitmen last year.

"I never thought I had a chance of making the Hitmen last year," Rissling said as he reflected upon last year’s training camp.

Rissling managed to suit up in 36 regular season games, tallying eight assists along the way. He also dressed for nine post-season affairs where he was fortunate enough to score his first ever WHL goal.

"Even when I was a healthy scratch, I felt I was learning", said Rissling who turns 17 this month. “Watching from the stands, I could see what the older guys were doing, how they play the game and try to adapt to how they do it."

With the departures of Michael Stone and Giffen Nyren to the paid ranks, Rissling and Kosterman will be counted on to play bigger roles for the Hitmen.

"We'll expect a lot more from them,” Assistant Coach Brent Kisio said. “They'll probably have to log some more minutes.”

While veterans Ben Stone, Matt MacKenzie and Zak Stebner will be leaned on for a majority of the hard labour this winter, you can bet that both Rissling and Kosterman will play a very important support role on the back end.

With these five guys along with 19 year old returnee Kyle Aschim, the Hitmen should ice one the deepest and well rounded blue lines in the WHL.

Wednesday night’s game goes at 7pm at Ron Ebbesen Arena in Airdrie. Tickets are available at 5pm at the doors.

The 2010-11 Calgary Hitmen train is officially rolling!

Derrick Newman

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hitmen revving up for a repeat

Matt MacKenzie

So what do you do for encore when you have a season like the Hitmen just had?
After winning 52 games in the regular season and then running over the competition in the post-season en route to a WHL Championship, the Hitmen are faced with a daunting task.

With possibly 13 players returning from last year’s championship team, there will definitely be some new faces in the dressing room this time around.

With the likes of Brandon Kozun, Michael Stone, Joel Broda, Martin Jones and possibly Ian Schultz moving on into the professional ranks, that leaves some mighty big shoes to fill on a roster in need of some new leadership.

Leading the way should be defence partners Matt MacKenzie and Zak Stebner who will be counted on to be the leaders on blue line; continuing there progress from late last season where there became the shutdown pairing in charge of stopping the opposition’s best players. Stebner is one of six other 20 year olds vying for three spots on this team (Every WHL team can have three 20-year olds). My bet is that you see Stebner back with the Hitmen and being a big part of the Calgary’s success this season.

Up front, look for Cody Sylvester to parlay his playoff success into regular season riches as he will emerge as one the top goal scorers on this team. His 11 goals in the playoffs not only eclipsed his total of 10 in the regular season, but he was counted on in key situations by Head Coach Mike Williamson when the Hitmen were in need of a boost.

In goal, it will be Michael Snider’s job to lose. Snider backed up All Star Martin Jones all of last season. Snider did not disappoint when he was called upon last season going 16-5-2 with a GAA of 2.52 and very modest save percentage of .902. Snider will be given every opportunity to succeed in Calgary and I think he will flourish as the new ‘man’ between the pipes.

The Hitmen will definitely have a new look this season, but don’t expect that winning mentality to waver and expect to see the Masked Men contending for yet another Ed Chynoweth Cup.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hitmen Nyren in Flames prospect camp

Calgary Hitmen defenceman Giffen Nyren does not belong to any National Hockey League team; not yet at least.

After being invited to the Minnesota Wild camp last summer, he finds himself in a familiar place in the summer of 2010; on Saddledome ice. The only difference is that he is wearing the flaming ‘C’ on his chest and not the menacing emblem of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.

Nyren clearly turned some heads in Calgary during the Hitmen playoff run as he was granted the invite by the Flames soon after the WHL Champions returned home from the Memorial Cup.

He became one of the Hitmen’s most dangerous weapons from the blue line as he potted 5 goals and added 13 assists during Championship run. He was also a plus 15 during the post-season; 2nd in the league only to Captain Michael Stone.

At 6’1” and 195 lbs, Nyren plays a similar game to that of another fellow Calgarian; Norris Trophy nominee Mike Green. Nyren loves to lead the rush and create plays with his feet, much like Green does with the Washington Capitals. Nyren loves to have the puck on his stick during the power play, much like Green who quarterbacks one of the most lethal units in NHL.

So if Nyren is so good, then why did he get passed up in two straight NHL entry drafts?

Well, when Nyren broke into the junior ranks with the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Warrior brass thought it wise to try Nyren out as a forward, and then moved him back to defence, then back to forward, and around and around the carousel went.

Nyren never had a chance to plant his roots in one position, which presumably stunted his growth as a player. This past year when he was given the increase in ice time by the Hitmen coaching staff, he proved that he can be a very effective offensive defenceman, and quite often a game-changer.

He was awarded the WHL Boston Pizza Player of the Week during the final week of the playoffs when the Hitmen beat the Tri-City Americans 4 games to 1 to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup; proving to be a key cog in the Championship victory.

He has been knocked in the past by some for having some defensive deficiencies and making the odd blunder; well his plus/minus rating in the playoffs might help silence some of those critics.

In the end, the Flames may have just found a diamond in the rough in their own backyard. Look for Giffen Nyren on the ice this week wearing the number 40 jersey.