CAMROSE -- Expected to be a rough affair, what with the pre-existing bad blood in any Battle of Alberta mixed with the emotions of a bunch of youngsters trying to make a strong impression, the players were surprisingly well-mannered for most of the night.
It was an intense game between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers prospects, but there were only a couple of fights, just a few big hits -- the best a smackdown by 6-ft.-4 Flames defenceman Matt Pelech on 5-ft.-10 Oilers rookie Bryan Lerg -- and even fewer post-whistle scrums.
That semi-hospitable mood changed in the opening minutes of the third period when the Oilers' Geoff Paukovich rammed Kyle Greentree into the boards from behind and sent him to a nearby hospital on a stretcher during the Flames' 1-0 win last night at the Edgemont Centre.
Greentree was moving his limbs as he was eased onto the flatboard and wheeled out, but the incident marred the opening game of the Oil Country Rookie Tournament.
The team had no update on Greentree's status last night.
While playing for the University of Denver three years ago, Paukovich broke current camp-mate Rob Bina's neck with a hit from behind during the WCHA playoffs.
He was given a five-minute boarding major and ejected from the game last night.
"I know he was a few feet away from the boards, so obviously it was a dirty hit. Hopefully (Greentree is) all right," said Flames winger Brett Sutter, who scored the only goal of the night in the first period while shorthanded, beating Devan Dubnyk high on the short side. "We knew coming in this was going to be a rough game, especially playing Edmonton. That was our game plan coming in -- play rough and take it at them. They came right back at us.
"Unfortunately, it turned out like that, but you knew it was going to be physical."
Reacting to a hit from Flames winger Adam Cracknell, Paukovich jumped up and slammed into the first red jersey he saw. The 22-year-old said he didn't mean any harm.
"I was just trying to be physical down low ... to be successful. I have to make guys not want to play in their defensive zone," Paukovich said. "All I can say is I hope he's OK.
"There was no intent."