The Calgary Flames entered the final game of the Young Stars Classic hoping to leave Penticton with a winning record.
Mission accomplished, as the Flames regrouped after an uneven first period and were opportunistic in the second period to stake themselves to a lead. They ultimately closed out the tournament with a 6-1 win over the host Vancouver Canucks, who ended up losing all three games at their own tournament.
Both sides spent the first period basically feeling each other out, systems-wise. Of course, both teams were playing their third game in four days, and at times it looked like it. Jonathon Martin scored late in the period for the Canucks, giving them a 1-0 lead at the end of the period.
The second was a bit more even, with the Flames pushing the pace but unable to solve Austin Lotz. They broke through five minutes in, with Josh Jooris stealing the puck in the offensive zone and feeding Markus Granlund for a quick wrister that beat Lotz to tie the game. The back-and-forth continued for awhile, until a Flames power-play broke the deadlock; John Ramage’s low point shot was tipped by Michael Ferland to make it 2-1. Turner Elson followed soon after, beating out two defenders for a loose puck and turning on the jets before beating Lotz to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.
The third period featured more punch-counterpunch, with the Canucks unable to break through with a strong scoring chance on Mason McDonald. Ferland scored his second goal of the game, off a rebound from another nice scoring opportunity by linemate Markus Granlund. There were a couple scary moments later on in the third; Sam Bennett left the game with an unspecified injury. After that news broke, Frankie Corrado came across and caught Johnny Gaudreau under the chin with a flying elbow. A scrum ensured and Corrado got tossed from the game, giving the Flames a lengthy power-play. They scored twice – Bryce van Brabant and Hunter Smith the goal-scorers – to close out the game and cement a 6-1 win.
The Flames out-shot Vancouver 39-16. I’m reasonably sure Mason McDonald was able to read a couple books in the downtime he faced during the game.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
They didn’t play great in the first 40 minutes, but they were able to take advantage of their opportunities in the second period, scoring two goals in a short span to swing momentum well into their favour. And in the third period, they controlled the pace and didn’t allow the Canucks to get back into things.
Markus Granlund had a goal and two assists and was Calgary’s best player. Honourable mention to Michael Ferland, who’s developed some nice chemistry with Granlund and not only scored a pair of goals, but went right after Frankie Corrado when the Canucks defender took liberties with Johnny Gaudreau late in the game. Good on him.
SUM IT UP
The Flames went 2-1-0 in their three-game tournament experience in Penticton. Now they head home and regroup and prepare to play a game against a more mature group, the U of C Dinos, on Wednesday night at Father David Bauer Arena.