SUN Hockey Pool

Flames pick eager to stoke Spitfires

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

The reviews were positive.

The feelings were happy.

But Greg Nemisz and the other Calgary Flames hopefuls dispatched to their respective junior clubs yesterday were all sent with important lessons to heed.

For Nemisz, it was key to remember he needs to push himself with the OHL's Windsor Spitfires.

"Don't take anything for granted just because you're a high draft pick," he said. "I still have to come to play every night, be focused, all that."

The Flames made their first roster moves yesterday, sending forwards Nemisz, Lance Bouma (Vancouver), Ryley Grantham (Moose Jaw) and Mitch Wahl (Spokane) and defencemen Keith Aulie (Brandon), T.J. Brodie (Saginaw) and Per Jonsson (Farjestads) to their junior teams.

The early portion of the prospects camp was a success. The Flames hopefuls beat the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks prospects at a tournament in Camrose, and the team believes it's best to get as many youngsters as possible back to their respective junior teams for the start of their season instead of keeping them around for the NHL's pre-season.

Other than the three potential overagers -- goalie Leland Irving and forwards John Armstrong and Hugo Carpentier -- the only junior-eligible players still around are defenceman John Negrin and forward Mikael Backlund.

Nemisz, the Flames' first-round pick at this year's draft, is staring at a big season. Windsor is a top-ranked team and he's on the radar for Canada's world junior entry.

"We've got a great team in Windsor this year and are going for a championship. I'm just going to do my best to play for the team," he said.

"Whatever else happens along the way ... The world juniors is definitely something I want to be on and I can be on if I do the things I should, but you can't worry about that other stuff."

The prospects tournament was seen as a big success, and not just because Calgary scored two victories.

"It really helps pull your organization together, from a chemistry standpoint and a character standpoint as well, because you're thrown right away into the heat of the battle against division rivals and rivals that will be there many, many years," said assistant coach Wayne Fleming.

"It allows them to get a taste of what it's all about to wear a Flames jersey.

"From a coaching standpoint and a management standpoint, it allows us to evaluate players and what they bring to the table," he added. "You can run drills and run practice situations, but until you get the action of the game and the tempo of the game, I don't think you get the same type of read.

ICE CHIPS

The Flames now have 18 players in prospects camp, with main camp opening Friday ... Among those on the ice yesterday was forward Kyle Greentree, who was carted off the ice on a stretcher after a hit from behind in the game against the Oilers. The diagnosis was a strained neck, but he was good to go already. "I think we're all pleasantly surprised," Fleming said. "I know he was feeling good (Monday), with the therapy stuff right away, and he was raring to go this morning, competed hard and, as of right now, is feeling no effects."


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