Calgary Flames 2013 first round draft pick Morgan Klimchuk got his first taste of the pro game on Friday, suiting up for the Abbotsford Heat in their 3-2 win over the Oklahoma City Barons.
Heat bench boss Troy G. Ward was satisfied with the rookie's play, which saw him pick a up plus-one rating while skating on a line with AHL veteran Corey Locke and Heat sophomore Brett Olson.
"I thought he did a good job," he said on Friday evening. :I thought he battled hard on the walls as a young kid. He didn't get a lot done offensively but we didn't as a group, in general, at times. I thought it was a good first game for him.
"It's kind of one of those games where you've got to clean out everything from your past and start fresh. I was happy with him. I thought he was good on the bench. I thought he played hard for us and he'll only get better."
Klimchuk did not register a shot his first AHL outing but was a plus-one at the end of the night.
The Flames selected the Calgary, AB native 28th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. He has spent his entire WHL career with the Regina Pats.
Klimchuk compiled 30 goals and 74 points through 57 regular season games with the Pats. The winger potted three goals and five points in four postseason games.
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- Today's Frozen Four semi-final showdown between Boston College and Union could come down to one thing: the Eagles top line's ability to crack the Dutchmen's defence and netminder Colin Stevens.
Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold, and Kevin Hayes were placed together on a line on Dec. 6 and have been rolling ever since. Since that point, the Eagles have gone 20-3-2 and the trio have combined for 128 points (53 goals, 75 assists), which amounts to 45.7 per cent of the team's offence.
Since being placed together, they have all scored at least one point-per-game in 18 of their last 25 games. Twice this season, the trio has combined for 13 points in a game, most recently against Denver on Mar. 29 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
They have also combined plus/minus rating of plus-86 since Dec. 6.
Needless to say, a lot of attention will be paid to the trio tonight at Wells Fargo Center.
"They're a tremendous line," Union captain Mat Bodie said on Wednesday. "It shouldn't be about limiting the damage. They haven't been kept off the score sheet all that much all year. It's going to be about taking time and space away.
"It's not simply a line matching up or d-pair matching up. It's the five guys on the ice. We work as a unit in the [defensive] zone, and it's going to be up to everyone to chip in to try to stop those guys."
Shayne Gostisbehere, a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick, is one of the pillars on Union's defence and will likely spend a lot of time on the time with Gaudreau, Arnold, and Hayes.
He has first-hand knowledge of how just how dangerous one of the "Big Three" can be. He played with Gaudreau at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia and roomed with him for a portion of the tournament.
"He's an amazing player," Gostisbehere said on Wednesday. "Every time he touches the puck something special is going to happen. The crowd gets on their feet.
"He's not a kid who you can just try to hit because he's pretty much unhittable. He's so shifty. He's a great kid. He's a very humble kid, too. He was my roommate at the pre-tournament in Finland, and you couldn't tell he was the best college hockey player because he was so humble about it. He's an easy going kid and definitely a great hockey player."
BROADCAST NOTE: Today's game will be aired at 3:00 PM MST on TSN2.
PHILADELPHIA, PA — Last year, Bill Arnold, Johnny Gaudreau, and Boston College were pitted against Union in the NCAA regionals and the Eagles were considered the favourites in the one-and-done match-up.
After all, Boston College is recognized as a hockey power in the NCAA and head coach Jerry York is the winningest bench boss in college hockey history. Union didn't have that kind of prestige behind it.
As it turned out, Union doled out a 5-1 thumping, ending Boston College’s season.
“I mean, they definitely beat us pretty good last year, and I think that's fresh in everyone's mind,” Arnold stated after Boston College’s practice in Philadelphia on Wednesday. “But it's a new year. We've got a completely different team, and I think we're much better, and I think they've obviously made it farther this year than they did last year, so they're a better team.
“We're going to respect them as an opponent, but like we've been doing the last month here, we're focused on our game and what we have to do to win. We know it's made us successful throughout the year, so that's our main focus here.”
Union has made great strides over the last few years, particularly under head coach Rick Bennett, but despite their continued progression, Gaudreau admitted his team was caught off guard by the Dutchmen in 2013.
“Last year we got caught coming off a 2012 National Championship,” Gaudreau stated. “I think we didn't take our opponent seriously. I think we took them a little too lightly. I mean, last year in the 2012 season we had a great team and really had a great run at the end of the season. I think we should have went into the game a little more motivated or a little more focused.
“This year after that first loss against Union, I know a lot of the guys from our team last year didn't want to go through that again. So, all the guys are pretty motivated.”
Arnold, who was drafted by the Flames in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Draft, may have just a bit more motivation than some of his teammates. This is his senior year at Boston College and his last opportunity to capture a national championship.
The 21-year-old will move on to professional hockey when his collegiate career comes to a close but he hasn’t let thoughts of what lays ahead creep into his mind.
“I don't think anyone in our locker room is thinking about what's going to happen after this weekend. Everyone's focused on taking this day-by-day and getting better every day. I'm certainly in no rush for this week to be over. I loved my time at BC, and it would mean a lot to me to go out on a high note with a national championship. So, that's where all my focus is right now.”
One of the biggest keys for Boston College to skate away with their second NCAA Championship title in the past three years will be Arnold and Gaudreau’s line. They, along with Chicago prospect Kevin Hayes, have decimated opposition defence and goaltenders all season.
They’re the highest scoring line in college hockey this season but they also pride themselves in playing a 200-foot game. York preaches defensive responsibility and they take it very seriously.
“Obviously, as a line we like to score goals, but all three of us really embrace a two-way game,” Arnold explained. “Just talking about Johnny specifically, he's super offensive. He has over 70 points. But, whenever you ask him what he wants to work on, he's always saying improve on his defensive play, and he's really embraced that. So, as much as we like to score goals, we know if we get scored on, we have to put two in to be a positive for the team.
“It's a lot easier to keep them off the board and make sure we're helping our team by scoring goals every chance we get.”
Boston College faces off Union on Thursday. Watch CalgaryFlames.com for more coverage from the Frozen Four in Philadelphia.
Calgary Flames 2012 third round draft pick Jon Gillies has announced he will return to Providence College for his junior year.
In two seasons with the Providence College Friars, Gillies has suited up for 69 games, going 36-21-11 with a 2.12 GAA and a .931 save percentage.
Gillies compiled a 19-9-5 record this season with a 2.13 GAA and a .931 save percentage, making 979 saves on 1052 shots.
He helped carry the Friars to the NCAA East Regional Final last weekend, turning aside 37 shots in Providence's 4-0 victory over Quinnipiac on Mar. 28.
He is the Friars all-time shutouts leader with nine goose-eggs on his resume. The South Portland, ME native also holds the season-single shutout record, which he set in his freshman year when he collected five shutouts.
CALGARY, AB -- Twenty-four hours ago, he was a member of the Quinnipiac Bobcats.
On Saturday, forward Bryce Van Brabant became the newest member of the Calgary Flames.
After Quinnipiac was eliminated by Providence College in the NCAA East Regional semifinal Friday, Van Brabant signed a two-year entry-level contract with an average annual value of $1,350,000 per season with the Flames.
"Obviously I'm disappointed on how last night turned out, so right now it’s a bittersweet moment with the loss, " the Morinville, AB native said. "I'm excited to be joining the Calgary Flames, and I want to thank everyone involved at Quinnipiac.
“Without them I couldn't have imagined this being a possibility."
In signing a deal with the Flames, Van Brabant will forgo his senior season at Quinnipiac.
In 40 games this season, he recorded 15 goals and 22 points -- both career highs. His 113 penalty minutes were also a single season best. In all, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder had 24 goals and 42 points in 115 games in the ECAC.
Prior to attending Quinnipiac, the 22-year-old spent three seasons playing for the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, scoring 22 goals and 47 points in 151 career games.
Van Brabant will join the Flames, who embark on a five-game road trip starting Sunday against the Ottawa Senators. His debut is expected to come later in the week and will mark the first time a Quinnipiac alum will appear in an NHL game.
PHOENIX, AZ -- After rolling out mainstays Joe Colborne, Mike Cammalleri and Sean Monahan as his first three shooters, Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley was looking for something different in Friday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Dallas Stars.
He found it in the rookie.
“I was looking at our first three shooters and that was a given and then I thought that maybe we’d give a different look to (Stars goaltender) Tim Thomas,” Hartley said. “I went down and I know that Ben Hanowski can be pretty sneaky around the net too so I asked them, I said ‘Are you regular shooters’ and Benny right away said ‘I can go, but Knighter’s real good’. I said ‘alright, you’re up. If we go to the fourth guy, you’re up’.
“He made an unbelievable move.”
In just his sixth NHL game -- one that saw him skate just three third period shifts and no spins in overtime -- Corban Knight was on the hook with the contest on his stick.
“I was just sitting there enjoying the view and all of a sudden I get tapped and it kind of threw a kink in that," Knight said. "It was pretty cool to go out and do that.
“Instant nerves. It’s amazing how fast my body reacted. It was about a millisecond after he touched me I started shaking. It was pretty nice to have the coach tap you and get a chance to help the team out. It was pretty cool."
He didn’t disappoint, deking to his forehand before uncorking a shot that beat the 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy winner to send the Flames to Phoenix in jovial fashion.
“It’s basically the only move in my repertoire,” said Knight, 3-for-5 with the Abbotsford Heat this season in the shootout. “It’s kind of nice it worked on my first try."
In his first taste of NHL action, the firsts have continued to pile up for Knight.
The High River, AB native skated in his first NHL game on March 5 and recorded his first NHL goal Wednesday.
A shootout winner Friday caps an impressive nine-day stint that isn't lost on the 23-year-old.
“Just the fact that just over a week ago I was playing my first NHL game and the fact the team is playing well right now, it’s special to be a part of it," Knight said. "The guys are great and make you feel at home here. It’s definitely been a great experience.
"I’m just trying to soak in as much as I can.”
CALGARY, AB -- Curtis Glencross is the first to admit it’s been a trying season for the 31-year-old.
Having played just 21 games after missing two segments of the season with knee and ankle injuries, the 6-foot-1, 197-pound forward is ready for challenges -- both mental and physical -- when he returns to the Calgary Flames lineup against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.
“I'm sure I'll be a little timid out there, but hopefully I'll get in early in the first few shifts, get banging around and get in some of the areas you might not feel too comfortable in,” Glencross said. “But you have to overcome that.”
It might be easier said than done.
Having missed 15 games with a second-degree MCL sprain earlier in the year and more recently recovered from a high ankle sprain that forced him out of 29 contests, the normally rugged Glencross admitted his toughest opponent to getting up to speed is himself.
“It's more the mental thing, the confidence thing, knowing I'm healed and recovered and all good,” said Glencross, who does have six goals and 12 points when in the lineup. “These games are important for leadership, we have a lot of young guys and have to keep building. These guys are the future of this organization and us veterans have to stick with them guys and help them any way we can.”
It can be equally helpful to the grizzled vet, too. Glencross’ injury bug bite extends back to last year when the Kindersley, SK native was forced to miss the final four games of the 2012-13 season with another knee injury.
With 17 games remaining on the docket for the Flames, Glencross has the chance to set an early, healthier tone for next season.
“He’ll have a chance to get back,” coach Bob Hartley said. “We want him to have a strong finish of the season. That’s the most important thing.”
Glencross knows it too.
“It's not the year I've wanted, injury-wise,” he said. “I've only played 21 games this year, so I want to take these last games and make the best of them to take strides for next year.”
CALGARY, AB -- Fall off the horse? Get back on.
That was Kevin Westgarth’s thought heading into Wednesday as he prepares to return to the lineup against the Anaheim Ducks after a concussion forced the 30-year-old to miss the past five games.
“You can’t let that change the way you play,” Westgarth said. “Everybody’s different and guys that get injured sometimes lose that sense of invincibility and other guys, honestly, it might help them out because they realize they have to work harder to stay at the top of their game so it doesn’t happen.
“You can’t tell until you’re back in a fight or something. I’m not too worried about it. It’s something that’s always been, to be honest, a lot of fun and comes relatively naturally. When I get back, I’ll get right back on the horse.”
He’ll get the opportunity to on Wednesday when the Flames host the visiting Ducks at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Coach Bob Hartley confirmed Tuesday that Westgarth will draw back into the lineup, which will mark his first appearance since a scary scene on March 1st.
Westgarth squared off with the Edmonton Oilers’ Luke Gazdic. The spirited bout was abruptly ended when Gazdic caught Westgarth with a stiff right, buckling the Flames forward before sending him to the ice. He needed help getting off the ice from teammates and returned to Calgary as the Flames continued on their two-game road trip to Minnesota.
“I was pretty lucky all things considered,” Westgarth said. “Obviously if we’re talking to guys who have gone through other head injuries, the result was pretty normal very soon after so I was pretty lucky that way.
“Even my initial SCAT right after was pretty decent, kind of very good, I suppose. I got through all the testing and it was back to baseline. I haven’t had headaches or anything, maybe just the day after, a minor one. I’m pretty lucky.”
On Jan. 18, the Flames and Canucks started their respective fourth lines and within seconds of the game starting, 142 penalty minutes were dished out thanks to a line brawl that featured all 10 skaters dropping the gloves.
So, the big question heading into tonight's tilt is just who is head coach Bob Hartley going to start against the Canucks.
"I don't know yet. I'll check it," he grinned. "I always sit with Jacques [Cloutier] and Marty [Gelinas] so we'll see. And the opening lineup ... what's the difference between the opening lineup and the second line. What's the big difference?
"I think I've tried over the past 15 or 20 games to share it between the four lines. Guys are working hard. Guys are having fun. We're a tight group so we're trying to share responsibilities and guys are answering well. I think they like it."
The Flames face off against the Canucks at 8:00 PM MST.
CALGARY, AB -- It was only a couple of spins around the rink, but Karri Ramo has finally returned to the ice.
The Calgary Flames goaltender, who what’s being described as a lower body injury, skated for the first time since sustaining the injury in Calgary’s 4-3 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 1.
“Today is the first skate and it was just to see where we’re at right now,” Ramo said Tuesday. “What I’ve done off ice, everything’s felt really good. We decided to put the gear on and go on the ice and see what I can do and can’t do yet. We move forward on that and probably I think every day now I’ll get some more and more ice time and see how it goes.”
It wasn’t an exhausting workout, but the quick jaunt represented progress for the 27-year-old keeper, who left the game against the Wild late in the first period.
“I didn’t really do anything. I just skated around a few laps and got on my knees and moved around a little bit,” Ramo said. “It felt good. As far as getting back to practice, we haven’t set any dates yet. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow morning and see when we can have a little more work on the ice.”
The timing of the injury couldn’t have been worse for Ramo, who had won three straight decisions and allowed fewer than three goals in four of his past five appearances. The stretch improved his record on the season to 11-10-4 with a 2.66 goals against average and .908 save percentage.
It didn’t get the native of Asikkala, Finland down, though.
“You still have to be positive,” Ramo said. “You also have to take advantage of it when you’re not on the ice. You have time to work on stuff off the ice that you can’t do when you are on the ice.”
Though there are just 21 games remaining on the Flames docket, the goaltender is set to ensure he’s completely ready before stepping back into the crease.
After all, there isn’t much time for a setback with just six weeks remaining on the schedule.
“The way I see it is that I try to just make sure that everything is 100 percent before I come back so that there’s not going to be any setbacks,” Ramo said. “There’s not much time left so I just want to get back to 100 percent before I come back at all.”