Hitmen happy to have Dome roommates back
Calgary wraps up 5-4 win over Vancouver, but minds never far from the news that the NHL is returning
CALGARY, ALBERTA.: JANUARY 6, 2013 -- Calgary Hitmen Cody Sylvester, right, collides with Vancouver Giants Luca Leone during their game at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta on January 6, 2013. For Sports story by Kristen Odland (Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald
Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald
There’s been a buzz missing from the Scotiabank Saddledome.
And, frankly, Chris Driedger has missed it.
“It was kind of boring, almost, not having any NHL to watch,” said the Calgary Hitmen netminder, chuckling following Sunday’s 5-4 home win over the Vancouver Giants. “But it’s back and the Flames are going to be right beside us where they belong.
“It’s going to be nice to be able to watch some practices and see some away teams like we did last year.”
That’s one of the treasured perks of playing in an NHL building and being owned by an NHL club — the behind-the-scenes access to players they aspire to be.
It’s almost become part of the Hitmen culture to sit and watch the Flames’ morning skates or, on game days, catching the visitors’ practice.
But since the 113-day work stoppage, the Dome has been pretty quiet and the building has been solely theirs.
“Watching the NHL guys, it’s pretty cool,” said Dreidger, a third-round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators. “They’re pretty good. It’s always fun to see how they do things.”
A student of the game himself, Brady Brassart also pays close attention.
“Coming to the rink, you see the Flames working on their power play or their D-zone,” said the Hitmen centreman who had a pair of goals on Sunday. “For me, I watch the centremen and see what they do with the puck and how he plays D-zone.
“Obviously it’s exciting. Sportcentre is going to heat up again and having them just in the rink and on the ice and watching the games on TV. You just learn so much.”
So, needless to say, Sunday’s early morning deal reached between the NHL and NHLPA was basically THE best news ever.
“One of the first things I do when I wake up is go on Twitter to see what’s happening in the world,” said defenceman Spencer Humphries. “(Sunday) morning I saw about 100 people tweeting about the lockout being over. I went straight to the TV and threw on Sportscentre.
“It’s nice the NHL’s back.”
Driedger had also been following the developments on Twitter.
“You always see, ‘Oh they’re so close.’ And then it doesn’t happen,” he said. “They’re close again and then it doesn’t happen. I checked my Twitter (Sunday) morning and all of a sudden it was like, ‘Hooo-leee. The lockout’s over.’ Wow. It was pretty exciting.
“I’m looking forward to it starting.”
The end of the lockout doesn’t directly affect Driedger this year (he’s only 18) but he said he’ll likely be in more contact with Ottawa Senators goalie coach Rick Wamsley now.
Besides Driedger, Calgary has three other NHL-drafted players — defencemen Kenton Helgesen (Anaheim, 2012) and Jaynen Rissling (Washington, 2012) and forward Victor Rask (Carolina Hurricanes, 2011). Defenceman Alex Roach signed by the Los Angeles Kings while Rask is also signed.
However, none of the players are likely going to be called from their duties with the Hitmen.
Good thing, too, because the group is rolling along nicely right now, piling up another victory on Sunday. Despite being down 2-1 after the first period to the league’s worst club, they managed to find a way to win. Again.
Calgary rookie Mack Shields stopped 22 shots for his sixth victory of the season while Brassart’s two, Zane Jones, Pavlo Padakin, and Greg Chase also connected.
However, it’ll be a while before the Hitmen (27-10-1-3) return to the building which is sure to be buzzing later this week when the Flames return to the ice.
They hit the road for a three-game trip to Brandon, Moose Jaw, Regina, and Swift Current.
The Giants, meanwhile, dropped to 11-29-0-0 with Riley Kieser, Cain Franson, Jackson Houck, and Calgary Flames prospect Brett Kulak scoring goals on Sunday.
F Jake Virtanen and D Josh Thrower returned from the under-17 world championships Sunday and were in the lineup ... Calgary scratched D Jaynen Rissling (flu), LW Calder Brooks (shoulder), F Elliott Peterson (injury), C Victor Rask (world junior championships with Sweden, will return for Jan. 18 home game against Prince George) ... Former Hitmen and current Vancouver Giants forwards Trevor Cheek and Rob Trzonkowski made their return trip to the Dome on Sunday.
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