SUN Hockey Pool

Prospect a hit

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

By his own admission, Matt Pelech didn't show his best the first few days of the Flames prospect camp.

He sure left quite the final impression, though.

Pelech, one of the roughly dozen-and-a-half youngsters who'll depart back to their junior teams today, provided a reason for the Flames and their fans to smile during yesterday's intra-squad game.

The hulking 6-ft. 3-in., 220-lb. defenceman -- chosen by the club in the first round in this year's draft -- sent Matt Hubbauer into the bench during the clash before a stuffed Don Hartman Northeast Sportsplex.

"It was kind of a fluke. I think we went to go hit each other and he took a little bit of a jump.

I couldn't see what happened but heard everybody yelling after that," said Pelech. "It felt good after but I didn't really mean to hit him over the boards."

The clash ended a 1-1 tie through overtime, with Dustin Johner scoring for the Black squad and Ryan Donally replying for Team Red.

Ritchie Regehr scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Reds a 2-1 victory.

Team Black's Pelech, who'll go back to the OHL's Sarnia Sting, wasn't so much thinking about the score, opting instead to ponder his improvement over the week.

"Early in the week I don't think

I played as physical and confident as I usually play. It was such a shock coming in with everyone so good," he said. "I didn't really expect everybody to be this fast and this strong but, by the end of the week, I had a little more confidence and feel my game improved."

Though expectations will be high for Pelech, being a 26th overall selection, they should be tempered for a couple of years yet.

We are talking about a teen -- the youngest player in camp -- who has to grow into a man's body. In fact, he didn't even blow 18 candles off his cake until a couple of days before arriving in Calgary.

The learning curve will be climbing at a quick pace.

"It's awesome, really high tempo but it's been a really great experience," said the Toronto product. "I learned a lot from (assistant coach Jim Playfair) during the practices. He takes you aside and works on individual skills. I learned a lot about position, about how to play the puck and when to jump and not jump into the play. I'm just hoping to take all that back to Sarnia."

ICE CHIPS: All the club's goaltenders were strong, especially in the shootout that included every skater but Brent Krahn, Curtis McElhinney and Matt Keetley gave especially notable performances ... In attendance, and virtually unnoticed, was Flames forward Marcus Nilson who said he'd grown tired of being in the team hotel and decided it was time to leave after countryman Jesper Parnevik carded a couple of bogeys to put himself out of contention at the Canadian Open ... Veterans report today for fitness testing. The first on-ice session for them will be tomorrow, with practices -- open to the public -- beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Don Hartman NE Sportsplex.


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