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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA Today Sports

Flames invite pair of Red Deer Rebels to rookie camp

The Calgary Flames open rookie camp on Sept. 15, but a pair of camp invites have already been revealed. The Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels have announced that forward Ben King and goalie Connor Ungar will be headed to Flames camp.

Ben King

King, 19, is listed at 6’3″ and 200 pounds, and he’s a right shot centre originally from scenic Vernon, British Columbia. He’s played 138 games in the Western Hockey League, split between the Swift Current Broncos and the Red Deer Rebels. He’s expected to return to the Rebels for the upcoming season.

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King led Red Deer in scoring last season, putting up 12 goals and 28 points over 21 games – played entirely between the WHL’s Alberta clubs. He was tied for 20th league-wide in points and tied for 18th overall in goals, a respectable performance for a player who had been passed over in the 2020 NHL Draft as an 18-year-old. He was similarly passed over in the 2021 NHL Draft as a 19-year-old, but his work was enough to impress the Flames and earn an invite.

King was ranked 182nd among draft eligible prospects by our friends at FC Hockey. Here’s an excerpt from his draft profile in their draft guide:

King showed improvement and maturity in his approach this season after getting passed over in last year’s draft. The most notable advancements are in his puck presence and and how he elongates possessions and puts pucks in better areas. He isn’t a burner, nor are his stride mechanics elite, but looks as if he’s added a gear to his skating. Even though he’s not a technically sound skater, he’s gotten better at applying crossovers to routes, attacking on angles and forcing opponents to think twice about their approach. His added ability to open up and angle his feet away from each other has made him far more of a threat in the offensive zone. He’s a bigger player who normalizes playing the role of a physical presence on pucks, while also playing off the puck with poise and making good decisions to put himself into positions with space where he could make effective plays.

He’s a rock-solid WHLer, but his skating may hold him back from progressing too far in the pros.

Connor Ungar

Passed over in his second NHL Draft, Ungar, 19, is a 6’0″, 190 pound goaltender currently plying his trade for the Rebels. He’s a local kid who played for the Springbank minor hockey association and the Calgary Flames (in midget), among other places. He played eight games for the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2020-21, going 5-2-1 with a 2.87 goals against average and .904 save percentage. He was traded to Red Deer in May.

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Ungar’s a bit of a project, and to date he’s only played 15 games in the WHL, but he’s shown decent results in limited duty. At worst, he’s camp depth for the next week or so, and allows Dustin Wolf a chance to grab a breather here and there.