SUN Hockey Pool

Monster crease battle

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:21 AM ET

Because of the looming lockout, the best battle in Flames camp won't take place in the Stampede City. It'll happen when the Lowell Lock Monsters begin to put their organization together later this month.

That's when Brent Krahn will do his best to grab the one goaltender spot the Flames hold with the joint minor league affiliate.

Standing between the former first-round draft choice is the last player to put pen to paper on a contract with Calgary -- Sebastien Centomo.

It's friendly but a rivalry nonetheless to grab the third spot on the NHL squad's goaltending depth chart.

"We know we have to compete," Centomo said, "but when the coach says, 'You're going in,' you go in there and do what you have to do. You can't do anything about what the other guy is doing."

In all likelihood, Centomo has the edge on Krahn.

The 23-year-old has three years worth of pro experience under his belt, having spent the bulk of those seasons with St. John's -- the top minor league affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Centomo also has one game's worth of NHL time, a 40-minute stint during the 2001-02 campaign.

That edge in experience, he's hoping, will give him the advantage needed.

"Dave (Marcoux, the club's goalie coach) told me we had two good prospects in Brent Krahn and Davis Parley but Darryl Sutter was looking for an experienced guy," Centomo said. "I've got three years and have a good chance for Lowell and maybe a chance to go up."

Provided there is an NHL season.

The way things are transpiring, it'll be a long time before any action graces NHL rinks.

For Centomo, who signed with Calgary after becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer, the hope is not too long.

After all, he feels ready to elevate his game.

"I want to play. I'm sure all the guys want to play," he said. "Coming here for the rookie tournament, I want to beat all the goalies because I want to be the No. 3 guy in this organization.

"I think I'm ready to push those guys on the big club."

It's a chance he wasn't going to be afforded much longer with the Maple Leafs.

Set in goal with the temperamental Ed Belfour, Toronto's depth chart will likely see another addition when the league and its union settle their differences.

Plus, Toronto remains high on prospect Mikael Tellqvist, who was deemed good enough for Sweden to put between the pipes during the World Cup of Hockey.

"I think it was time for me to go from there," said Centomo, who'll see action tonight when the Flames prospects team meets the University of Lethbridge tonight.

"I'm still young and want to prove I can play in the NHL. I don't want to wait until I'm 28 to make the big club so it was time to make the jump."

Besides, linking up with the Flames gives Centomo another benefit. Like any product of the QMJHL, he's spent his teenage years working with goaltending coaches.

The Leafs, however, don't provide that to their young netminders.

"I've been on my own. This year, coming here, with a full-time goalie coach will be very good," he said. "I'm gonna improve."


Photos