Super skills thrill

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Hockey parents, next time your youngster wants a space-aged, state-of-the-art graphite stick, point out what Adrian Aucoin did yesterday.

During the Calgary Flames skills competition at the Saddledome, the defenceman unloaded a rocket of a slapshot (102.3 m.p.h.) to take the honours in the fastest shot event.

Aucoin then pointed out for the crowd he used a trusty wooden weapon, which costs $30 -- a fraction of those pricy graphite models.

"It was for my own kids," Aucoin said. "I'm worried about my own kids and saving myself a dollar, too. It was strategically planned."

Aucoin has resisted the urge to try a graphite stick, one of a handful of players in the league who hasn't switched.

"I get enough ribbing in here, so I had to step up and answer the question marks, I guess," he said. "There are a lot of things out there that look good, but the good, old-fashioned stuff works."

Of course, a blistering slapper doesn't come with the stick. It's about technique, and Aucoin was noticeably quick in his windup.

"I can't divulge all my secrets, but that might have something to do with it."

However, Aucoin's Team Red ended up losing to Team White in the overall event.

The White squad came out on top in the team breakaway event, led by the super-skilled Kristian Huselius, who scored on both his chances.

Huselius, whose move a year ago can be seen on You Tube, was at it again. His first goal was scored by lifting the puck in the air as he approached goaltender Curtis Joseph and then batting it out of the air into the net. Huselius scored the second time by stickhandling through his legs and then lifting a backhand.

"I didn't think he'd flip it up in the air and hit it. That's a great move," Joseph said. "You've got a great chance to score if you can do that. The puck can go anywhere."

Certainly, it would be interesting to see Huselius -- who is perfect this season in shootout attempts -- try it in a game. He'd like to, but wouldn't want to fail with a trick move and hurt the team.

"The points are so big and you don't want to look bad trying something if you don't make it," he said. "I don't think it's a bad move, if you've got something you can do."

About the only other player to attempt something wacky was Craig Conroy, who dropped to his knees as he approached and tried to pass the puck from his glove to his stick.

"I fell too late. I wanted to throw it to my stick. Cujo, he thinks I'm falling and it's bad ice, but I just missed it with my stick," Conroy said. "I've done it before and it works, but I missed the puck.

"I haven't done it in a long time and needed to do it out farther. I started too late, darn it."

To nobody's surprise, Matthew Lombardi (Red) won the fastest skater event by zipping around the rink in 13.947 seconds, while Cory Sarich (White) beat fellow defenceman David Hale in the individual puck-control event.

Alex Tanguay won the accuracy competition, nailing all four targets in four shots.

"I think we're a little closer than we used to be. I remember my first couple years doing it in Colorado and you used to see guys going oh-for-eight, one-for-eight," he said. "Now we're closer, so it makes it easier, but don't tell anybody."

Of course, the result lends credence to those who say Tanguay needs to shoot the puck more.

"I know I do," he said. "I've been a playmaker my whole career, and up to this year it's given me good results.

"I've got to be aware and shoot a little bit more, but I'm not going to change my whole game based on a shooting-accuracy contest."\


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