SUN Hockey Pool

Sjostrom finally hits ice

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- It's not the start time of hockey games that's been bothering Fredrik Sjostrom this pre-season.

It's what he's been doing.

Watching and waiting for his chance to show his new team what he can do.

Sjostrom finally received that opportunity last night in Vancouver.

"Going to the game at 7 o'clock is not my thing," said the Flames forward.

Sjostrom, who Calgary signed as a free agent this past summer, was supposed to play in last Thursday night's clash at the Saddledome. However, he was hit in the right eye by a puck in practice the day before.

Fortunately, the damage only needed a few stitches, but he wasn't cleared to play in a game until last night.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," said Sjostrom, who's sporting a visor.

"I'm eager to get on the ice. You want to get the systems in as fast as possible.

"I'm going to go out there and play, not think too much about where to be exactly. Everything will sort itself out."

It was also Rene Bourque's first pre-season game.

DION MISSING IN ACTION

Defenceman Dion Phaneuf was the most notable player not to hit the ice when the Flames had a large contingent take part in the morning skate yesterday at GM Place.

Head coach Brent Sutter was tight-lipped about Phaneuf's absence, saying it was only maintenance.

Veterans Craig Conroy and David Moss returned to practice with their teammates. They skated by themselves for a couple of days due to undisclosed "nagging" injuries, according to Sutter.

"We want to make sure when they get back into the lineup they're 100%," he said.

Defenceman Anton Stralman was excused for personal reasons, as his fiance was due to give birth to their second child.

FLAMES TRIO DEMOTED

Goalie Leland Irving and defencemen Brett Palin and John Negrin were assigned to the AHL's Abbotsford Heat. That leaves 39 players in camp -- three goaltenders, nine defencemen and 27 forwards.

As well, Cam Cunning, Carsen Germyn and 2004 first-round draft choice Kris Chucko have been put on waivers according to Sun sources, which would allow them to be sent to the minors.

The Heat opened camp yesterday and play their first pre-season game Friday.


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