Ferland paces Flames rookies to 6-3 win over Dinos in exhibition action
Game certainly wasn’t a masterpiece, but lots of try had to impress new hockey ops boss Brian Burke
Michael Ferland of the Calgary Flames Rookies, right, celebrates with teammates Turner Elson, centre, and Markus Granlund after scoring one of his two goals Monday.
Photograph by: Ted Rhodes, Calgary Herald
Brian Burke was spotted Monday evening at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre, his first official day on the job with the Calgary Flames.
And what he saw, anyone will tell you, wasn’t exactly a masterpiece.
But it was a victory — a 6-3 decision over the University of Calgary Dinos — and, for the team’s fourth game in five nights, it gave the newly-hired president of hockey operations and the rest of the Flames staff another evaluation tool in assembling their 2013-14 National Hockey League roster.
“The guys were nervous because, obviously, this was the last audition in front of all of the management,” said Abbotsford Heat coach Troy Ward, the Flames’ rookies skipper. “They all want to shine well at camp and they’re a little bit tired.
“We just tried to calm them down, basically.”
That being said, Michael Ferland 2.0, did not need to be calmed down and showed how badly he wants to be a professional hockey player, netting two of the Flames goals, not to mention being a (very) verbal presence on the ice.
Zach Davies, Dylan Smoskowitz, and Ben Hanowski were responsible for markers, all on power-plays, while the most NHL-experienced of the bunch Sven Baertschi netted one late in the third.
Of course, there were plenty of storylines for Burke to watch on this night beyond the goal-scorers and playmakers.
But the biggest take-away from Monday was how the Flames rookies responded to a little physical adversity.
And the Dinos definitely weren’t afraid to flex their muscles.
Two perfect examples:
* Exhibit A — Baertschi absorbed a mean cross-check from fourth-year U of C forward Tyler Moir at the end of the second period. That didn’t sit well with the Flames and, eventually, it led to Smoskowitz’ goal in the third.
* Exhibit B — Upon watching Markus Granlund getting run by Dino Max Ross, Keegan Kanzig, the six-foot-seven, 240-pounder who had fought twice during the Young Stars Classic tournament, took serious offence. The Flames eventually drew a five-on-three Flames advantage in the third period which led to Hanowski’s goal.
There was no fighting on this night (a pre-game rule) so that meant the response had to be on the scoreboard.
So, the Flames responded on the scoreboard.
“I thought they were kind of running some of our guys,” said Ferland, who, steaming mad, had words following the hit on Granlund. “It sucks, but there was nothing we could do about it. Those are the rules and we’ve gotta play by them. They were a very physical team.
“Seeing guys like Granlund go to the ground, I’m not really a fan of seeing my teammates go down like that. I feel I should get in there and stick up for them.”
In addition to Ferland’s physical presence, his second-period goals were another factor in Monday’s audition.
First, midway through the frame, he tapped in Turner Elson pass while U of C’s Adam Kambeitz was charged with goaltender interference.
Then, with 59 seconds left, the six-foot-two, 215-pounder received a pass from Granlund and produced a fine backhanded move on Dinos goalie Kris Lazaruk who’d replaced Jacob DeSerres shortly beforehand.
“Everything is just sort of falling into place for me and working out,” Ferland said. “I’m having a lot of fun ... I want to get ready for main camp now and take my game to the next level.
“Obviously, there are going to be a lot of good players and I just want to keep going and having fun.”
Surely, fatigue played a role in a sluggish opening frame, as did the bigger international-sized ice at WinSport.
Early on, the Flames could not get their power play going and the Dinos managed to ice the puck five (!) times on a four-minute penalty kill. Finally, Davies managed to connect from the top of the circle on the lone goal in the first frame.
Burke saw many ups and downs in the game, including poor defensive coverage 20 seconds into a Granlund interference penalty in the third. That allowed U of C’s Walker Wintoneak to slip one through Joni Ortio’s five-hole and make it 4-2.
Max Ross and Drydn Dow had the Dinos’ other markers. In the end, the Flames out-shot U of C 35-29.
So, in front of a crowd full of local fans and a press box full of Flames brass (including Burke), it was an around good effort from a group that went a collective 3-1 after Monday’s clash and three games at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton — and hadn’t practised once.
Following Tuesday’s annual golf tournament, the Flames veterans report for fitness testing Wednesday.
After that, both groups hit the ice Thursday — which, Ward warns, will be an entirely different ball game altogether.
“The bullets are going to fly on Thursday,” he said. “Things are going to be moving at full-speed. (The veterans) realize the organization is making some changes and we’re getting a little bit younger. And they’re trying to protect their jobs.
“So (Monday) was a good thing for the young kids.”
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