SUN Hockey Pool

Peters' long, winding road

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

The play was so impressive, Warren Peters deserved an assist without touching the puck.

Lost in the game-winning goal of Wednesday night's 2-1 Flames win over the Dallas Stars was the part Peters played in it.

You couldn't miss the way Dustin Boyd kept the puck in the offensive zone by the slimmest of margins and made a one-handed pass to set up Eric Nystrom's five-hole tally.

Not seen in the highlights was Peters' contribution.

First, he bumped Joel Lundqvist into the boards on one side of the rink, which forced the Stars to reverse the play and go to the other side.

Peters was there before the puck came to Fabian Brunnstrom, which forced the loose puck Boyd intercepted.

Truly a play worthy of recognition, although he didn't receive any.

"That's OK," Peters said. "We've been working hard as far as our line and have to continue creating momentum. We can change the game with a big goal or big action, a hit or a fight, that's our job.

"By the time (Brunnstrom) received the pass, I was pretty much right on top of him. I just got barely enough of him to separate him from the puck, and then Boyder and Ny finished the job. It was good to see we can contribute."

When the Flames reach the playoffs, they expect to make it a lengthy run. To achieve that goal, they'll need key plays from unsung heroes.

You may not find a better example than the 26-year-old from Saskatoon.

If you want to cheer a player for his perseverance, Peters is your man. Undrafted out of junior, his first NHL game came this season, after more than 400 contests in the minors.

Talk about paying your dues.

"And he started in the East Coast league," Nystrom pointed out. "I love those stories, the guys who start in that league and play hard enough to get to the American Hockey League and work to get another chance.

"He deserves it. I've seen him take pucks to the face and block shots, drive the net, fight. That's the type of player they like here, and that's why he's been playing well."

A two-time 30-goal scorer with the WHL's Saskatoon Blades, Peters spent all of the 2004-05 season in the ECHL.

Then the Flames came calling. Peters actually made the Flames out of training camp prior to last season, but lost his spot when Mark Smith was added on the eve of the campaign.

Instead of sulking, he went to Quad City, was named captain and bided his time for his chance. It's come amidst the spate of injuries among the forward ranks, and he's made the most of it.

"It's nice to get rewarded," he said. "It's been four years with the organization. At the same time, it proves you need to develop. I was probably an East Coast league player when they signed me and developed perhaps into a player that can contend for a job in that (fourth-line energy) role."

All that time learning the ropes has helped him.

"It's a learning process and you learn a lot in the minors," said Curtis Glencross, whose resume includes nearly 200 minor-league games. "Plus, he's not a young kid who's come up and seems shell-shocked. He's learned the pro game and what it takes. It's not fresh to him."


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