It wasn’t pretty at times, particularly in a fairly one-sided second period, but the Calgary Flames kicked off the 2015 Young Stars Classic tournament with a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets prospects at the South Okanagan Event Centre in Penticton earlier tonight.
The Flames carried the play for the majority of the first period. Bryce van Brabant opened the scoring about five minutes into the first period, with Tyson Baillie garnering an assist. The lead was doubled soon after when Ryan Lomberg walked in from the side boards and beat Connor Hellebuyck to make it 2-0, with an assist to Andrew Mangiapane. Brendan Lemieux scored late in the period off a Ryan Culkin turnover to make it 2-1.
And that was all the scoring we got on this tonight, aside from a Morgan Klimchuk empty netter late in the game. The second period was much more skewed towards the Jets, as Oliver Kylington left the game as a precaution after an unspecified minor injury – he’s fine, we’re told – and the Flames rolled with five defenders for the balance of the game. (Patrick Sieloff blocked a shot and went down awkwardly early in the second, but he toughed it out and stayed in the game.)
The third was a bit more even and featured a bit more chances for the Flames, but aside from allowing a few too many odd-man rushes for my liking – including one where Jon Gillies made a sick sprawling toe save – the Flames played a smart, structured game and came away with a 3-1 win. The boys from Calgary out-shot the Jets 36-26 overall.
Let’s go with Jon Gillies, who made 25 saves for the victory. But plenty of players were good. Mangiapane was strong, especially working along the boards and protecting the puck against bigger players. Brett Kulak was good and showed off his mobility. I thought Sam Bennett was good in flashes and led the game with 5 credited shots. Rasmus Andersson played a ton and was pretty strong, as well.
On the flip side, I barely noticed Keegan Kanzig, and when I did, it was because he was caught out of position or had to rush back after getting beaten by a rushing Jets player. Calgary’s power-play also wasn’t all that good, generating zero goals on four chances – including a lengthy five-on-three situation in the first period.
The Flames get back at it tomorrow, as they play the Edmonton Oilers. No word yet if Connor McDavid will play. Either way, Flames/Oilers tilts are always fun affairs. Puck drop is about 8:30pm MT and you can catch the action on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and on the Flames website.