SUN Hockey Pool

Call-up shooting for extended Flames stay

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

David Van der Gulik wasn't just content to pull on the jersey.

The 25-year-old Calgary Flames winger made his NHL debut at the Saddledome Friday night -- and led the team in shots.

"I had a bunch of shots," said Van der Gulik, who launched a half-dozen attempts at Minnesota Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom during 9:19 of icetime.

"I was trying to get it to the net. With (linemates Eric) Nystrom and (Brandon) Prust, we know we're going to the net and we're not going to get too fancy.

"I had a couple of real good chances I would have liked to have buried."

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder said he felt good about his first NHL game.

"I had a lot of compliments and felt like I played pretty well," Van der Gulik said.

"I thought we had a good line going. We got the puck in their zone and created some offence. But it's definitely a learning curve to pick up the pace and get the shots off quicker."

With Andre Roy and Brandon Prust battling concussion problems, Van der Gulik will likely get another chance to strut his stuff tonight when the Flames host the Tampa Bay Lightning (6 p.m., Sportsnet).

"Hopefully, I'll keep getting the chance to earn the opportunity to play the next game and stay here," he said. "You never know. I just want to earn another day here.

"I'm just trying to enjoy it and show that I belong here," he added. "I want to stay as long as possible and show that I can be here next year for the whole year."

The Flames' seventh-round pick in the 2002 draft put up 14 goals and 27 points in 56 games with the AHL's Quad City Flames prior to being called up.

He said it was hard to watch his minor-league teammates get called up to The Show.

But now that he's finally got the call, he's intent on making the most of his opportunity,

"This is my third year of pro and you see guys make the jump," he said. "It could be you, but it might just be timing.

"It's hard to stay positive sometimes, but the coaches and scouts are always giving us feedback.

"There's times when it's frustrating. But it was amazing to get the call, and you have to be ready to take advantage of it."


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