SUN Hockey Pool

Giant tilt for rookie

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

It takes a lot to make defenceman Matt Pelech look small.

Doing just that was Los Angeles Kings giant Brian Boyle as the two squared off in the final few minutes of the Calgary Flames' 4-1 victory at the Saddledome Monday night.

Pelech stands 6-foot-4 and weighs in around 220 lb.

The Flames rookie playing just his second NHL game still gave up a few inches and more than 30 lb. to the 6-foot-7, 252-lb. Boyle.

"It's very, very rarely that someone makes me look small. He had some size to him," said Pelech, who earlier in the period earned his first point with an assist on David Moss' goal.

"I'm not used to fighting guys bigger than me so it kind of messes up my whole strategy.

"The guy was a big dude. I had trouble reaching him. I got a couple of good ones in. It was cool. It's always fun getting into little tussles like that."

The pass wasn't nearly as noticeable as he sprung Craig Conroy and David Moss with a short breakout pass.

"I think I actually passed the puck about a foot and a half to Connie. The forwards did all the work on that one," the 21-year-old said with a grin.

"I was just fortunate enough to give it to two guys that were going to get the puck in the net.

"That's a play you make every shift -- it wasn't anything special -- but it was my first point, so it will be special to me for a long time."

His experience as a call-up after playing 59 games for the American Hockey League Quad City Flames this season has been memorable.

He played nearly 18 minutes during his debut in Minnesota as the Flames played with just 16 bodies in a 4-0 loss to the Wild Friday.

Suiting up for just 7:31 in his second game, he made the most of his minutes and was riding an adrenalin rush when he was ejected early following the fight.

"Oh yeah," said Pelech.

"I came to the room and I was shaking."

It might have been a mixture of the competitive juices, the atmosphere and energy in the Dome, and the kid in him that still thinks back to the years spent idolizing some of the guys he's in the room with now.

"I don't think it's really sunk in yet. I think I'm still kind of walking on a cloud here," said Pelech, who admitted to being an admirer of winger Todd Bertuzzi.

"I grew up being a huge fan of some of these guys. Just to be sitting across and sitting beside some of them is awesome."

So was his Saddledome debut, which takes on new life in the regular-season, especially this close to the playoffs.

"I've watched the games on TV, been in exhibition games. The fans here are unbelievable. Everybody's got a jersey. Everything's red. They're so loud every time you touch the puck," Pelech said.

"When a goal goes in, you can't even hear yourself think.

"Playing here was probably one of the coolest things I'll ever do."


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