Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Wild
THE BIG HANOWSKI'S HOMECOMING
A month ago, Ben Hanowski was preparing for one of the biggest games of his young career in the bowels of the Xcel Energy Center. He had taken his team, the St. Cloud State Huskies, to the Final Five and would be playing for their first WCHA Championship.
Today, he's prepping for his first NHL game in his home state.
"It's pretty special," the 22 year-old said of his whirlwind month which included a stop in Pittsburgh for the Frozen Four. "Very cool."
The Little Falls, MN product will have 20-25 family members and friends in the stands tonight and the majority of the Huskies will be situated in a suite to watch their former teammate compete against the team he grew up cheering for.
"The Minnesota Wild did something really nice and hooked them up with a suite for the game," Hanowski explained. "That's what I heard from my coach. I'm pretty grateful for that, that they would do that.
"I'm pretty happy that they're going to come and watch."
Prior to signing a two-year entry-level deal with the Flames, Hanowski's entire career had been spent in Minnesota. He played for Little Falls High for four years and became the highest scoring forward in Minnesota high school history. In his senior year, his 73 goals and 135 points in 31 games earned him a nomination for Minnesota's prestigious Mr. Hockey Award. In total, Hanowski played 117 games in his high school career, notching 196 goals and 405 points.
"It was a lot of fun," he smiled, thinking back to his time with Little Falls High. "Some people thought I should have went to junior hockey in the USHL or something like that. But I thought I could continue to develop at high school ... it was a lot of fun playing with your buddies you've been playing with since you were four years old."
He then went on to play four seasons with the St. Cloud State Huskies and captained the team in his final two years. He recorded 62 goals and 113 points in 155 games.
Hanowski was acquired in the trade that sent Jarome Iginla to Pittsburgh. He was drafted by the Penguins in the third round (63rd overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
JOEY MAC GETS THE START
Head coach Bob Hartley announced Joey MacDonald is healthy enough to play and will start in net tonight in Minnesota.
"I did everything to discourage him from playing but he wants to play," Hartley chuckled. "He was sick on the plane yesterday coming in but he told me feels good enough to play."
MacDonald boasts a 7-7-1 record this season with a 2.91 GAA and a .900 save percentage. The 33 year-old signed a one-year, one-way contract with the team on Sunday.
The Flames recalled seven players from the Abbotsford Heat this morning and three of them will play tonight as Mark Cundari, Paul Byron and Ben Street are all slotted in the lineup. Here are tonight's lines and pairings:
In his post-practice scrum, Hartley noted that Dennis Wideman (finger) will likely play during this road trip while Steve Begin (upper body) has a 50/50 chance of suiting up this week. Curtis Glencross suffered a grade two MCL sprain in Friday's game and did not come on the trip. He is expected to recover in four to six weeks from the malady.
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Cory Sarich needs 2 points for 150.
Jiri Hudler needs 4 goals for 100.