SUN Hockey Pool

Home sweet home

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Over the years, Curtis McElhinney has seen his share of Flames games at the Saddledome. But the Calgary kid finally had his best perch ever.

McElhinney, fourth on the depth chart among Flames netminders, happily partook in his first NHL pre-season game Wednesday night, even if it was only to serve as backup during the team's 4-2 win over Chicago.

"Games I've seen before have been from the second level. I had the best seat in the house," said the 22-year-old netminder.

McElhinney -- selected in the sixth round, 176th overall, out of Colorado College in 2002 -- would have been thrilled taking a spot between the pipes with the collection of friends and family watching him but called it an incredible learning experience.

"Even though I didn't get a chance to play in the game, I gained firsthand experience how it happens," he said. "How important it is playing the puck down low, that's the biggest thing. In the first period, Miikka (Kiprusoff) was making short passes to defencemen and I saw how important that was to the breakouts."

ICE CHIPS: The Flames yesterday assigned defenceman Steve Bancroft to AHL Omaha, which opens training camp Monday ... If yesterday's practice is an indicator, the lines for tonight's game against Edmonton would be Tony Amonte-Daymond Langkow-Jarome Iginla, Jason Wiemer-Stephane Yelle-Shean Donovan, Eric Nystrom-Matthew Lombardi-David Moss and Craig MacDonald-Lynn Loyns-Brantt Myhres. On defence would be Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold, Mark Giordano, Steve Montador, Andrew Ference and Dion Phaneuf, with Philippe Sauve and Brent Krahn the two netminders.


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