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Heat Report: 14.10.13

Mike Cadarette reports from Abbotsford

Monday, 14.10.2013 / 11:18 AM / Future Watch
By Mike Cadarette
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Heat Report: 14.10.13
Mike Cadarette reports from Abbotsford

A TIGHT BATTLE

As far as home openers go, the Heat's weekend versus the Nashville Predators-affiliate Milwaukee Admirals was as close as you can get.

On Friday night, the Heat edged the Admirals 3-2 in overtime. Trailing by one goal with just seconds to go in the middle frame, rookie Turner Elson out-hustled his way to his first professional goal to tie up the game.

"The first goal as a pro - it's been a long time waiting," Elson smiled. "You dream of getting your first goal as pro - maybe not as greasy as mine, but they all count and I feel happy about it."

Head coach Troy G. Ward had nothing but praise for the edgy former captain of the Red Deer Rebels after the game.

"It was obviously the turning point in the game. We go down after two and it's a different game…so it gave our young kids some energy in the locker room in between. They came out with a different mind set after that."

In the third period, Ben Hanowski collected his third goal of the year to put the Heat up 2-1. But it was Corban Knight and Greg Nemisz that hooked up on the power play to score the OT winner.

In the Saturday rematch, the Admirals exacted a measure of revenge as they beat the Heat 2-1 in the shootout. The game boiled down to a tale of two goalies as Heat backstop Reto Berra battled Milwaukee's Magnus Hellberg.

The lone goal scorer for the Heat, Roman Horak, commended Berra on his 27-save performance following the game.

"He was good. He kept us in the game a lot of times and so far he's been unbelievable here."

The Heat will take their division-leading 2-1-0-1 record into Oklahoma City in the upcoming weekend to face the struggling Barons.

RIVALS NO MORE

In the world of college hockey, rivalries commonly emerge between divisions, teams and even individual players.

When it came to Knight and his Fighting Sioux against Hanowski and his Huskies, they weren't quite "Sugar" Ray vs. Roberto Duran or Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson. But the rivalry was there and it was intense.

"It wasn't fun playing against him," said Hanowski. "You can see from his numbers that he put up that was a special player in college. We had some good battles and good rivalries with his school and mine."

When asked if it was a pain playing against Hanowski, Knight tersely answered, "absolutely."

"We had some pretty heated battles in college and it was quite the rivalry with those guys," the rookie centre smirked. "He always seemed to score against us too. He was always putting the puck in the back of the net."

It's a little ironic, then, that the two prolific scorers on their respective teams become linemates; forced to work together like, say, Jordan and Pippen or Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.

"The fact that he's on our team and on my line right now, it's nice for him to be on this side for once," said Knight.

In the first four games of the season, the line of Jooris, Knight and Hanowski have combined for 12 points.

BEN'S BLAZING START

Hanowski can put up points. He's done it at every level he's played at and he doesn't look to be slowing down any time soon.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old has gotten off to an excellent offensive start to his rookie campaign. In his first four games, Hanowski has collected three goals and an assist. When asked about his five game cup of coffee with the Flames at the end of last season, he acknowledged that it certainly gave him a compass from which to gauge his upcoming first professional season.

"I think it helped. I think it helped out my summer in what I needed to do to come in in good shape and be a better player from that. It definitely has helped my career and helped me through the summer and into the early season."

Following Thursday's practice, Ward explained that it's what they've come to expect from the forward after his successful junior career.

"I think he's followed his pedigree. His pedigree is that he's the all-time leading goal scorer at Minnesota, which is pretty historical. That's pretty historical to get over 200 goals in four years of high school.

"I think his pedigree has kind of followed him south. He was a great player at St. Cloud. He had some time last year in Calgary which hopefully helped him. … It's been encouraging because you're not sure - it's kind of like the Bryan Cameron, Ryan Howse thing - just because they scored 50 goals in [junior], can they score at this level? We found out that wasn't the case. So it's been encouraging for Ben, and for us as a team."

PROUD OF HIS PUPIL

After cracking the Flames opening day roster, Ben Street has been turning the heads of fans, management and head coach Bob Hartley. And rightfully so. The 26-year-old Coquitlam, BC native has gained the trust of Hartley to the point where he's averaged nearly 18 minutes per night in his last three games.

As Street's former head coach, Ward's "not surprised" that the Flames bench boss chose to hold on to him. According to Ward, Ben had to go through a bit of a transformation last season in order for him to become an NHLer.

"I thought that Ben went backwards in terms of points last year, but he went forward in terms of heart and in terms of consistency with an edge in his game. And I think that's why he basically made the Flames. It's because he's 'safe.' He plays on both sides of the puck, he can make plays and he can really shoot the puck.

"So I always told him last year, I think your goal scoring will always be there, but you're never going to get there just based on scoring goals in the American league - you're just not a top-6 forward, even though he kind of is playing that role right now. I said, 'you're more of an honest, two-way player.' So let's get less points this year and more heart. And I thought that was a really frustrating experience last year for Ben. He was frustrated at times. He didn't really want to buy in, but I think he did and now it's paid off for him. Bob's taken notice to him and liked him. Ben's a likeable guy as a man, so he has an edge up just on being an honest, driven man. So I'm really happy for Ben and extremely excited for him."

2014 FLAMES PICKS
SAM BENNETT
CENTRE - CGY
Round 1 - 4th Overall
MASON MCDONALD
GOALTENDER - CGY
Round 2 - 34th Overall
HUNTER SMITH
RIGHT WING - CGY
Round 2 - 54th Overall
BRANDON HICKEY
DEFENCE - CGY
Round 3 - 64th Overall
ADAM OLLAS MATTSSON
DEFENCE - CGY
Round 6 - 175th Overall
AUSTIN CARROLL
LEFT WING - CGY
Round 7 - 184th Overall