SUN Hockey Pool

Sarich up to lineup scratch

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

His banishment to the press box over after two games, Cory Sarich didn't feel like hiding his happiness.

"No one likes to sit out. I'm excited to go out there and get a chance to contribute," said the Calgary Flames defenceman after yesterday's morning skate.

Sarich, a healthy scratch for two consecutive games, which ended what was the NHL's longest consecutive games streak, returned to the lineup for last night's clash with the Nashville Predators.

A little stung by the benching? Yes.

Trying to move on? You bet.

"Of course, off the start, you're frustrated, but you get over that and you just realize that it can happen to anybody and don't want to let it happen to you again," he said. "So you try to prepare yourself better than before and get excited when you get the opportunity again.

"I've got that, so I'm pretty pumped up."

When he was scratched for last Saturday's game in Phoenix, his ironman streak was snapped at 453 games.

Seeing veteran defencemen among the Flames scratched is going to be a regular sight, with eight rearguards, creating a higher level of competition than what you'd see with most teams.

"It's definitely here, whether a guy likes it or not," Sarich said of that internal competition for ice time.

"It's present and you've got to make the best of your opportunities.

"When you're out there, you've got to be solid and have good games."

Sarich, 29, went into last night's tilt with two goals and three assists in his first season with the Flames, having joined the team in the summer with a five-year, US$18-million contract.

Head coach Mike Keenan said part of the decision to sit Sarich stemmed from the fact he was trying to play while wearing a full face shield, a byproduct of taking a puck in the mouth a couple of weeks before.

Sarich said the full mask, now discarded for a visor, wasn't an issue to him.

"I know there's a big deal been made about it but it really wasn't bothering me that much," he said.

"It wasn't really the sight, it was a little hot to breathe, but I don't know where the idea of it bothering me came from

"I certainly never complained about it. "But I'm definitely happy to have it off. It's easier with the half-visor on."


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