Flames cut Hubbauer in

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:01 AM ET

Ladies and gentlemen, your newest Calgary Flames prospect ... Matt Hubbauer. And what a terrific birthday present for the Winnipegger who turns 22 Friday -- hearing his name called by Flames GM-head coach Darryl Sutter during last night's finale of Bell Making the Cut.

The 13-episode hockey reality show wrapped up with a mini draft for the 18 finalists. Six heard their names called by executives from the Canadian NHL teams.

"The last two years, my life has been a rol-ler-coaster ride," Hubbauer told the Sun shortly after being chosen fourth by the Flames. "To be in this position right now, I feel like I'm in a dream."

Hubbauer was one of the more compelling stories to arise from the 68-player camp held in Vernon, B.C., last July.

During the 2001-02 season with the WHL Regina Pats, he put up career numbers, scoring 48 goals and adding 34 assists. The performance earned a free-agent tryout with the Detroit Red Wings but shortly after returning from camp, Hubbauer was diagnosed with a benign tumor in his sinus cavity.

Doctors removed the tumor that November but his hockey future suffered. He logged only 32 games with the Pats, struggling to regain his foothold.

"Things just kind of spiralled from (Detroit camp)," said Hubbauer, who will arrive in Calgary next week to visit his girlfriend Lindsay Busher and her family for Christmas.

But now he feels like he's on top of the world.

"I can't even describe my feelings right now," he said. "Who knows how many of these chances you can have in your lifetime?"

Hubbauer, who won the stickhandling and backskating skills competitions during the July camp, was signed by the St. John's Maple Leafs to an AHL tryout contract.

Last week, Maple Leafs general manager Mike Penny, who was a player evaluator at the Making the Cut camp, renewed the deal for an additional 25 games.

"He's a good fit for us," Penny said last week. "He's not one of our front-line payers but he's competitive and he works hard."

And that description rings familiar in Sutter's rationale for choosing Hubbauer. After all, that was Sutter's trend in building the Flames' run through last season's Stanley Cup playoffs.

"He's a Western Canadian boy and a big-time skills skater," Sutter said.

And Hubbauer can't wait for the opportunity to prove Sutter made the right choice.

"I know what type of a player he was," the 5-ft. 10-in. centre said. "He left it all out there every night and he's looking for those types of players. I'm ecstatic at the opportunity to have a chance to play for him."

With the first pick, Edmonton Oilers vice-president of hockey operations Kevin Pendergast selected 6-ft. 4-in. defenceman Jordan Little from Winnipeg. The Vancouver Canucks chose 6-ft. 6-in. blueliner James DeMone of St. Albert, Alta., while goaltender Michael Mole, who won the CIS national championship last season with the St. FX X-Men, went to the Ottawa Senators.

The Montreal Canadiens took Kevin Lavallee, a 6-ft. 3-in. defenceman, fifth. With the last pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs selected Dominic Noel, a 6-ft. 1-in. centre from Lameque, N.B.


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