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Flames Today: 21.02.14

Notes from the Flames practice on Friday, Feb. 21

Friday, 21.02.2014 / 2:23 PM / News
By Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)
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Flames Today: 21.02.14
Notes from the Flames practice on Friday, Feb. 21

HANOWSKI AIMS TO TURN HEADS

Ben Hanowski and the Abbotsford Heat were just getting into Milwaukee on Thursday evening when the call came in.

With Brian McGrattan out with an upper body injury and Lee Stempniak off for a few days for a personal reason, the Flames needed a forward and turned to the Little Falls, MN native.

"It's obviously what you're working for down in Abbotsford," he said after a lengthy morning skate. "You're trying help them, get better, and eventually make it up here. It's very exciting for me."

There is a level of uncertainty surrounding how long McGrattan will be out for but Hanowski isn't focusing on that at all. His goal is to simply impress the coaching staff and management in practice and not stress about if he will get into next week's games.

"You've just got to come in and work hard, play your game, keep it simple. Right away, get your feet wet and play hard. Whatever happens, happens. Have no regrets. Play hard and leave it all out there. If it's two days, two months, just know you gave it what you have."

The 23-year-old has suited up for 48 games with the Heat this season - his first full professional campaign - and has been impressive since Game One. Through his high school and collegiate career, he was known for his goal-scoring prowess but Heat head coach Troy G. Ward has shifted his role to more of a two-way player. He has embraced the challenge, improving his defensive game and skating, and has flourished.

"Benny has been doing great with Abbotsford," Bob Hartley said. "Yesterday afternoon, we talked and he was the guy we felt deserved a call-up.

"Here's a guy I think that has a great understanding of the game, great hockey sense. We told him at the end of last year that we wanted him to work on his skating. He did and he showed up to camp in great shape."

He was thrown right into the fire this morning with Hartley putting his charges through arduous skating drills at the end of an hour-long skate.

"It's good to be back," he grinned. "It was worth it. I'll take that every day to be up here so it was good."

He was fairly prepared for the intensity of the Flames practice due to the fact that the coaching staff in Abbotsford run a very similar system to that of their NHL counterpart.

"The coaching staff down there, [they preach] to move and get up and down the ice. That's how we play. Today, I felt good out there and we'll see how it keeps going. But I think I was pretty well prepared for it.

"Speed-wise, we play pretty up-tempo down in Abbotsford. Coach Ward likes us getting up and down on the ice, playing fast and making plays. From a speed aspect, maybe a little bit quicker [here]. Guys are just bigger, smarter, stronger."

Hanowski also has five NHL games under his belt. Last season, after his collegiate career came to a close at the Frozen Four, the Flames inked him to a two-year entry-level deal and immediately brought him up to Calgary.

That cup of coffee gave him a boost heading into his rookie season with the Heat and has him feeling very comfortable right now, in the midst of his first recall this year.

"I think it helped a lot, going into the summer and knowing what to expect," he explained. "It was probably a little easier transition coming into training camp, being familiar with some of the staff and some of the guys."

OLYMPIANS ON-ROUTE TO CALGARY

Reto Berra (Switzerland) and Ladislav Smid (Czech Republic) are on their back to Calgary from Sochi, Russia. Berra is expected to be at practice on Sunday and Smid is expected back shortly after.

HARD INTO THE BOARDS

On Thursday, McGrattan appeared to hit a rut in the ice and went back into the boards. He immediately left practice and today, Hartley had more of an update on the winger.

"He's banged up pretty good," the bench boss said. "I don't think it's going to be very long ... it's upper body.

"He's so lucky. I saw it last night on TV. I can't believe it. He was in lots of pain when I got there. He's lucky."

QUOTABLE

"That's why it's such a great game. The momentum swings from side to side. It's unfortunate because in those games there's a loser but I think that both teams they performed very well. And it was fun to watch." - Hartley on the Canada-USA women's gold medal game on Thursday

TEAM BONDING

After the Flames watched the Canada-USA semi-final game, they headed out to a curling rink for a little team bonding.