Dubnyk gets golden opportunity to shine

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

A year and a half ago, Calgarian Devan Dubnyk was cheering on his beloved Flames as they plodded through the playoffs.

The Kamloops Blazers goaltender wouldn't be called up to the podium at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft for another month and thought of nothing but the Red and White winning the Stanley Cup for the Stampede City.

Last night, he came face-to-face with his hometown heroes -- from the wrong side of the Battle of Alberta.

"I was a diehard fan cheering these guys to the Stanley Cup final," said the 19-year-old Oilers prospect yesterday before suiting up in a backup role for a pre-season tilt at the Saddledome. "I certainly didn't expect that I might be facing off against these guys a year and a half later. It's pretty special and something I'm sure I won't forget anytime soon."

Edmonton selected Dubnyk with their first pick, 14th overall in 2004. While the former Flames fan didn't get to join his favourite team in the pros, staying in his home province isn't a bad consolation prize.

Besides, he's already comfortable using the visitors locker-room at the 'Dome when his WHL Blazers come to town to take on the Calgary Hitmen.

It isn't often a junior-aged goaltender sticks with the big club this deep into training camp but the 6-ft. 5-in., 195-pounder has been playing well and earned himself a shot at playing in front of his friends and family here in Calgary.

But would he play? Dubnyk was originally slated to play half of last night's game but in the morning, the team decided to let Ty Conklin play the full 60 minutes. However ... things change.

In a surprise move, Dubnyk was between the pipes to start the second period and the Flames didn't go easy on the teenager.

His idols shelled him with 13 shots for three goals, including one set up directly by Jarome Iginla.

But getting an unexpected chance to play certainly made Dubnyk's night that much more unforgettable.

"I'm just going to try to take it all in and learn from it," he said prior to the game. "It's been a one-of-a-kind experience for me."

The plan is to return Dubnyk to Kamloops today in time for tonight's Blazers home opener.


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