SUN Hockey Pool

Finn looking for big rebound

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

The only thing lacking in Aki Seitsonen's season last year was Freddy Krueger.

That many nightmarish disappointments took place over and over again.

In his final junior campaign, Seitsonen, a Flames draft choice in 2004, watched as life imploded for the Prince Albert Raiders.

Despite a roster that should have contended for the division crown -- at least based on the talent level in the dressing room -- the Raiders struggled miserably off the start, winning only four of their first 20, and dropped nine of their last 14 outings to miss the post-season.

"We had a lot of meetings," recalled Seitsonen, taking part in the Flames rookie camp yesterday at the Saddledome. "I don't know what happened. Things went wrong right from the start and we never figured out what went wrong."

Mirroring the Raiders' foibles was Seitsonen's season on an individual level.

The right winger, who netted 24 goals and 28 helpers in 2004-05, took a mammoth step backwards with only 20 goals and 15 assists. Those were about half of what the 6-ft. 3-in., 203-lb. product of Finland should have produced.

"I had a couple good games and a lot of ups and downs," he said. "It was a rollercoaster the whole year. It was one of those weird years and I hope not to have one of those again."

Seitsonen, claimed by the Flames with the 118th pick, couldn't pin his struggles on his team's shortcomings.

Determined to end his junior days with a bang and earn a pro contract, he admitted not being able to find his form and then watching it spiral worse and worse the more he tried.

"That's how it felt like. I think I put a lot of pressure on me because, in the back of my mind, I wanted to sign in the summer after a good season," he said. "I think that's one of the things that made myself have a bad year."

At least their was a pair of respites.

First came the Christmastime trip to the World Juniors in Vancouver, where he helped the Finland win a bronze medal.

The other was the finale to his season, a seven-game sojourn with the Flames farm team in Omaha after the Raiders were put out of their misery.

"It helped," Seitsonen said, despite failing to produce a point in those seven outings. "You see how high that level is and get to know the system they want there. It was a good thrill to be there for a month."

Plus, it rejuvenated his zest for the game and fired him up for these training camps (the veterans report for main camp Thursday).

Seitsonen's goals are to spend time with the vets, maybe even get into a pre-season game.

"They sent all the younger guys home before all the guys came last year," he recalled. "I talked to Kiprusoff a bit. Hopefully I get to stay here longer and get some experience with those guys."

PAY PER VIEW: Add another 13 games to Calgary's TV schedule.

Shaw Cable's website has unveiled the Flames pay per view schedule, which has a baker's dozen tilts on tap for the 2006-07 campaign.

Among those to be aired are the October games in Ottawa and Montreal, as well as some key late season games against Minnesota and Colorado.

TOUGH START: Brett Sutter is wearing extra protection to start camp.

Thanks to an elbow to the jaw while at the Red Deer Rebels camp, Sutter has a jaw guard to go with his visor, which is mandatory for unsigned, junior-aged players.

"It's just more a precaution thing," said the centre drafted 179th in 2005. "It's no big deal. It's not broken, just more to be safe."

DROP THE PUCK: The 43 prospects will play in an intra-squad game this afternoon at the Saddledome. The tilt will begin at 4:30 p.m. and is open to the public.


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