SUN Hockey Pool

Flames go out for Italian

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

The Olympic Flame will be burning in Turin, Italy in February and a handful of Calgary Flames may have a chance to spark their country in the chase for gold.

Rosters for the 2006 Games must be named by Dec. 22.

At least a half-dozen Flames should be considered, however briefly, to wear their countries' colours instead of the Flaming C when the men's hockey tournament begins Feb. 15.

SURE SHOTS

* W JAROME IGINLA, Canada

Past: Iginla won gold with Team Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. He scored a pair of goals and added an assist during a 5-2 win in the gold-medal game against the U.S.

Present: Iginla leads Calgary in goals (13), assists (14) and points (27).

Future: Iginla is considered one of the best players in the game and he will undoubtedly be a member of Team Canada.

* D ROBYN REGEHR, Canada

Past: Regehr was a force on Team Canada's blueline at last year's World Cup of Hockey and helped the Canucks to a silver medal at the world championship.

Present: Since returning from a high second-degree MCL sprain suffered in the pre-season, Regehr has been a rock for the Flames and is second to Iginla in ice time average with almost 22 minutes per game. He has also chipped in a pair of goals and five assists.

Future: There aren't many defencemen in the NHL as well-rounded as Regehr. He will be donning the Maple Leaf.

* G MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF, Finland

Past: After leading the Flames to the Cup final in 2004, Kiprusoff backstopped Finland all the way to the final against Canada at the World Cup, posting a 4-1-1 record with a 1.48 GAA and .940 save percentage.

Present: Kiprusoff is fourth in the league with a 2.14 GAA and tied for seventh with a .917 save percentage. He leads the NHL with four shutouts.

Future: You can bet on Kiprusoff being between the pipes for Finland at the Games. He will probably steal a couple of games for his country, too.

DESERVE A SHOT

* D ROMAN HAMRLIK, Czech Republic

Past: Hamrlik was part of the gold-medal Czech team at Nagano, Japan, in the 1998 Winter Games and made his second Olympic appearance in Salt Lake City. The NHL veteran also played for his country at last year's World Cup, tallying a pair of helpers in four games.

Present: The 31-year-old is out with a knee sprain but was rediscovering his groove before a hit along the boards in New Jersey sidetracked him for a month. Hamrlik has four goals and 11 assists in 30 games with Calgary.

Future: Unless Hamrlik's sprained right knee -- the same one he tore up at the 1994 worlds -- becomes a serious issue, Hamrlik will likely provide the Czech squad with leadership on the back end and spruce up their powerplay.

* D JORDAN LEOPOLD, U.S.

Past: The Golden Valley, Minn., product played for the U.S. at last year's world championship but a training camp injury kept Leopold out of the World Cup. At the 2003 worlds, Leopold led the American defence in scoring with a goal and three assists.

Present: The addition of Hamrlik and emergence of rookie Dion Phaneuf have cut into Leopold's offensive production but he has been a steady top-four defender. He has four assists in 31 games so far.

Future: Chances are Leopold will be named to the U.S. team when it announces its final roster Dec. 19.

LONGSHOTS

* W TONY AMONTE, U.S.

Past: The 2002 Olympic silver medallist was part of the U.S. team that captured the inaugural World Cup of Hockey title in 1996.

Present: Amonte isn't the consistent scorer he used to be but has chipped in timely points for the Flames. He has eight goals and 10 assists in 31 games.

Future: Amonte has scored 400 goals in the NHL and that has to count for something. But the U.S. is beginning a youth movement and the veteran winger was not invited to orientation camp. It will be a pleasant surprise should Amonte get the call.

* D DION PHANEUF, Canada

Past: The 20-year-old was dominant at the 2005 world junior championship, averaging a point a game and was named to the tournament's all-star team.

Present: Phaneuf is starring in his rookie season with the Flames and would be a favourite for the Calder if not for a couple of freshmen named Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.

Future: Although many would argue Phaneuf is ready for the Olympics, it would take an injury to one or two of the more experienced blueliners to open up a spot for him. Look for Phaneuf to star in Vancouver at the 2010 Games.


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