SUN Hockey Pool

Full speed ahead

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

It wasn't Calgary's altitude that had the Flames players sucking wind in their first on-ice session of training camp.

It was the speed of drills that took place one after another after another.

New head coach Mike Keenan's first session with his veterans yesterday was a high-paced practice.

With loads of skating for the full hour.

"It wasn't maximum effort," Keenan said. "It was cadence, it was tempo, it was speed, it was quick decision making, quick thinking, quick reaction, initiating some teaching and responding to the demands on the ice."

The idea being, if the team practices at an extremely high pace, it'll play at an extremely high pace.

"It's muscle memory," Keenan said. "There's some physiology involved in this. It's hypertrophy, training the muscles and the instincts. That's part of getting ready to prepare the athletes."

Certainly nothing unexpected.

"That's what Mike is about -- work really hard and put a lot of tempo into practices. The way you practice is the way you play," said defenceman Anders Eriksson. "He likes short and hard practices and anybody in the room would rather it be hard and intense, get the tempo up, instead of dragging it out for an hour and a half.

"That's the way Mike is and I like it."

SHOWDOWN SUCCESS

Goaltender prospect Curtis McElhinney has reason to boast on opening day.

He backstopped his team to a 2-1 win over Miikka Kiprusoff in a showdown to conclude the session. So, for one day, he bested the star No.-1 netminder.

"Yeah, I guess that's something to say -- 'one day.' You've got to start somewhere, start small," McElhinney said.

Only Marcus Nilson beat the rookie hopeful, while Kiprusoff surrendered goals to Dion Phaneuf and Anders Eriksson.

Goaltender Brent Krahn (knee) is optimistic he'll return to the ice soon.

ICE CHIPS

Daymond Langkow centred Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla, while Matthew Lombardi was placed with Kristian Huselius and Owen Nolan. Craig Conroy skated with Wayne Primeau and David Moss, while Stephane Yelle was with Marcus Nilson and Eric Godard. The defence pairings were Robyn Regehr-Adrian Aucoin, Dion Phaneuf-Cory Sarich and Anders Eriksson-Rhett Warrener, with David Hale in the No.-7 role.


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