SUN Hockey Pool

Heat cranked up for Jaffray

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Recalled from the Abbotsford Heat too late for the Calgary Flames' skills competition last weekend, Jason Jaffray has another one to look forward to.

Scoring 13 times and racking up 20 points in 38 games in the minors this season earned him a spot in the AHL all-star game later this month in Portland, Maine.

But the 28-year-old would rather skip it if it means he's still playing with the Flames.

"I'd much rather miss that game and be up here," said Jaffray, who suited up for his second game of the season in Flames silks Tuesday night in a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators.

"That's something that anybody would, I wouldn't say look forward to missing, but gladly miss if you can play some games up in the National League."

He's been an all-star in the minors before.

Twice as a starter in the East Coast Hockey League, and again in 2007 with the Manitoba Moose.

So forgive him if the NHL -- where he's suited up for just 35 games over three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and Flames -- is a little more appealing than taking part in the AHL all-star weekend.

Even if he misses his favourite skills event.

"Accuracy competition -- I was four (of) five two straight years in the East Coast Hockey League," Jaffray said with a smile. "That's kind of my skill that I excel at."

Another of his skills is making the best out of every situation. Claiming a spot with the Flames out of training camp as the 13th forward, Jaffray didn't fret when he was sent down once slugger Brian McGrattan was healthy enough to play.

Instead, he embraced his role as a leader among the youngsters in Abbotsford.

"Everybody really looks up to guys like me, (Jamie) Lundmark, (Colin) Stuart, the guys who've been around for six, seven, eight years," said Jaffray, who was named an alternate captain.

For now, he's trying to help the Flames fill Craig Conroy's skates.

Conroy didn't make the two-game trip, and there's no word on how long he'll be out of the lineup with an undisclosed lower-body injury.

Getting 7:45 of ice time last night against the Wild, Jaffray figures the way he's been used by Heat head coach Jim Playfair has prepared him for a lot more time on the ice if necessary.

"That's something that Jim Playfair has really stressed for me down in the minors. He wants me to be ready when I do get that call."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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