SUN Hockey Pool

Kipper's growing old in Calgary's crease

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

Birthday tradition calls for a pie in the face.

It's a custom the Calgary Flames have followed pretty religiously.

The victim is called into the middle of the circle in order to lead the pre-practice stretch and then blindsided with a plate full of shaving cream.

Not so for Miikka Kiprusoff, who turned 30 yesterday.

"Not yet. I'm surprised," said a clean-faced Kiprusoff after the Flames' practice at the Saddledome. "Hopefully they don't remember."

The Finnish goaltender sat in his stall after a draining drill on the ice as bystanders came to both congratulate and question him on the turn into another decade.

"That feels bad, man, that's real bad. I can't believe I'm 30 years old," he said. "Time's flying."

Kipper's dressing room neighbour, 35-year-old backup Jamie McLennan, was a little jealous.

"I wish I was 30 again," McLennan said before taking a jab at his captain, Jarome Iginla, who won't leave his 20s behind until July.

"Honestly, Iggy looks older than 30. I think Iggy turned 30 about seven years ago."

Unlike many of his other ageing European colleagues, Kiprusoff has no plan to limit his time in North America and return to his homeland.

"My timeline is as long as anybody wants me to play here," said Kiprusoff.

"It's a certain time in your life you're able to play and I enjoy every day. I have nothing like, 'I'm going to stay five more years' or something. If I feel good and am able to play here, I'm staying.

"I'm 30 now, I have to take care of myself. Hopefully I get some more good years here."

FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE:

Closing out a high-tempo but fun practice yesterday, the Flames had a breakaway relay game where teams of two would skate single file the length of the ice on one goalie then reverse the order on the other netminder.

Score back-to-back goals and you get to take a seat on the bench and await the others. To the surprise of many, the first four to score woreblack jerseys -- the colour worn by defencemen.

Andrew Ference, Rhett Warrener, Robyn Regehr and Mark Giordano were happy to watch the rest of the team battle it out against Miikka Kiprusoff and Jamie McLennan.

"We know our next four shooters for the shootout," boasted Andrew Ference.

"Me, Rhett, Reggie and Gio."

Added Warrener: "And it was early, so the goalies were fresh."


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