SUN Hockey Pool

Flames tough it out

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

SASKATOON -- It's only September, but the Calgary Flames are already showing their nasty side.

In a building that normally hosts Western Hockey League games, it was fitting the 11,861 fans were treated to some fisticuffs to go with an exciting 3-2 Flames loss in a shootout at the Credit Union Centre.

More than a dozen years ago, it was Jarome Iginla and Rhett Warrener dropping the gloves for the Kamloops Blazers and Saskatoon Blades, respectively, in the WHL final series.

Last night, Flames hopeful Carsen Germyn scrapped with Florida Panthers prospect Tanner Glass, while Saskatoon native Cory Sarich delighted his hometown fans with a lopsided tilt against Gregory Campbell.

"Well, the Western League, there was always a few," said the 6-ft.-3 Sarich, who played for the Blades for parts of four seasons in the mid- to late-'90s.

"I didn't actually fight a lot when I was here, but we got pounded on a few times, so I tried to make up for lost time."

Hockey Night in Saskatoon was a relatively quiet affair at a 'neutral' site chock full of Flames fans who often had to be prompted for volume in the early minutes.

Cheers did come during the pre-game ceremony, especially when Rosthern, Sask., product Robyn Regehr and captain Jarome Iginla's names were announced in the starting lineup.

More were let loose when Daymond Langkow slapped home the Flames' first goal of the exhibition schedule, and later when Grant Stevenson gave the Albertans a 2-1 lead.

Much of the crowd was comprised of family and friends of Regehr, Sarich, Rhett Warrener, and former Blades Brad Cole and Warren Peters, who were all born, raised or spent a lot of time playing here in the junior ranks.

"(I was) maybe even a little bit nervous before the game, believe it or not," said Regehr. "To have that many people in the stands, family and friends, it makes it pretty special."

The Flames played much better than they did in Sunday's 3-0 loss to the Panthers at the Saddledome, and they often controlled the play despite the final score.

Iginla started his pre-season strongly and was rewarded by head coach Mike Keenan with a lot of minutes in his debut.

Curtis McElhinney played the full 60-plus minutes.

He was beat by Rostislav Olesz with a shorthanded goal that tied it 1-1, and later a Martin Tuma point shot. Jozef Stumpel scored the only shootout goal.


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