It might not be meaningful hockey, per se, but hockey returns to the Scotiabank Saddledome this afternoon as the Calgary Flames face the Edmonton Oilers in white-hot prospect action. Rather than participating in the annual Penticton Young Stars Classic event, the Flames and Oilers are engaging in a home-and-sorta-home series – the return engagement is Wednesday evening in Red Deer.
Today’s game starts at 2 p.m. MT, but there are all sorts of activities taking place around the west entrance of the ‘Dome so come early if you can. If you’re not able to check it out in person, the game will be streamed on the Flames website and broadcast by our pals at Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
After two days of practice under the watchful gaze of new bench boss Bill Peters, the Flames’ youngest players hit the ice under the guidance of new Stockton head coach Cail MacLean. Roughly half of the players dressed today could end up in Stockton at some point this season, while a handful of ’em might factor into the Flames’ lineup as well.
Here’s a projected lineup from the first couple days of on-ice work (with jersey numbers in brackets):
Mangiapane (88) – Dube (59) – Foo (15)
Pollock (60) – Gawdin (80) – Phillips (47)
Ehliz (50) – Ruzicka (63) – Fischer (48)
Joly (52) – Roman (65) – Zavgorodniy (78)
Valimaki (42) – Ollas Mattsson (68)
Christiansen (57) – Kylington (58)
Healey (85) – Merezhko (98)
Tyler Parsons (and his sweet new pads and mask) is the starter and Mason McDonald appears to be the backup dressing, but we’ll get confirmation at warm-up. The projected scratches are Nick Schneider, Shane Farkas, Brayden Pachal, Merrick Rippon, Jordan Ernst and Mike McMurtry.
The youngsters from up north are now led by Todd Woodcroft, formerly an Oilers assistant and now the new Bakersfield Condors head coach.
Here’s their projected roster:
Gambardella (45) – Marody (65) – Yamamoto (56)
Benson (49) – McLeod (70) – Vesel (53)
Vesey (68) – Esposito (55) – Maksimov (72)
Polei (41) – Hebig (42) – Larkin (64)
Samorukov (78) – Bear (74)
Jones (82) – Bouchard (75)
Day (90) – Wilson (81)
Stuart Skinner starts in goal, backed up by Dylan Wells. The scratches look to be Olivier Rodrigue, Dave Gust, Ostap Safin (injured), Ryan Van Stralen, Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin, Logan Day and Jared Wilson.
Things to Watch
Keep an eye on the five potential first-year pros for the Flames: Dillon Dube, Glenn Gawdin, Matthew Phillips, Zach Fischer and Juuso Valimaki. Dube and Valimaki could factor into the big club’s opening night roster, and there’s no better way to get there than by making a good first impression here.
For the curious, the Flames are dressing 12 of their Top 20 Prospects (as voted by FlamesNation): Valimaki (#1), Mangiapane (#3), Dube (#4), Kylington (#5), Foo (#6), Phillips (#7), Parsons (#8), Gawdin (#11), Ruzicka (#13), Joly (#14), Zavgorodniy (#15) and Roman (#16).
For the visitors, keep an eye on 2017 first round pick Kailer Yamamoto and 2018 first round pick Evan Bouchard. They’re both high-end players and could start the season in Edmonton.