SUN Hockey Pool

Flames' first forgettable

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

The moment is captured in time.

Surrounded by a couple of opposing Quebec Nordiques, there's Guy Chouinard sliding the puck past goaltender Michel Dion and into the goal.

It's a milestone moment, the first goal in Calgary Flames history, amidst a 5-5 tie on Oct. 9, 1980 at the Stampede Corral.

Ask Chouinard to recall it, though, and he can't.

"It's been so long," he says from his home in Quebec City. "It's funny, most times I'm really good with my memory and I know I'm not that old. I just can't remember how we scored."

You can forgive him for not perfectly recalling it. After all, Chouinard tallied 193 times in a Flames uniform. Heck, the club's first 50-goal man netted a pair of goals that fateful evening.

It's a night he recalls better.

"It was special," he said. "It was completely different because it was the first time we'd played in a hockey environment."

It sure was a big change for the Flames.

In Atlanta, they were almost a novelty.

An expansion franchise, with moderate success, in the deep south.

After eight seasons, the plantation was packed up and they headed north, making their debut inside a frenzied packed house they called home for three seasons before moving to the then palatial Olympic Saddledome.

"Every game was a big event," said Chouinard, who came to Calgary for the 1974 Memorial Cup tournament as part of the Quebec Remparts. "Our dressing room wasn't ready when we first got there and we had to walk through the crowd to get to the ice but it was great.

"There was the high boards and the two-tiered bench. It was so unique compared to the rest of the league but it was so cosy and the crowd was right on top of you and loud, just like in junior. I'm sure we won some games because of the fans."

When his playing days ended, Chouinard traded his sweater for a whistle to great success.

As a coach in the QMJHL, he won more than 500 games over 17 seasons, and claimed four league titles, two with the Remparts and one with Victoriaville and Sherbrooke.

For three seasons, he's been at the helm of the semi-pro Thetford Mines squad.

"Guys used to bug me about it but after games and practices, I always liked talking about the game," Chouinard said. "Maybe my coaches didn't like it too much."

Curiously, Chouinard has another interesting claim to fame with the Flames organization. He was the last to score before the team left Atlanta. At least that's how the story goes.

"I've been told that but I'm not so sure. Is it true or not? I don't know," he said.

"It makes for a good story."


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