Flames hopeful making case

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:42 PM ET

Not many took much notice when Cam Cunning signed a one-year, two-way deal this summer.

But the Flames eighth-round draft pick from 2003 always seems to be hanging around with the big squad late into training camp.

The last couple years Ive had pretty good opportunities here, said the 25-year-old whos played five seasons as a pro. I got to play some games.

This year I really want to push for a spot and stick around.

After a 19-goal, 38-point season with the AHL Abbotsford Heat last year, even more eyes are open to what the energy forward is capable of.

Hes a big guy that creates through energy. He can skate, he finishes checks, said Brent Sutter, who coached Cunning for half a season with the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL.

Hes a player that competes at a very high level.

The breakout season with the Heat was special to the Powell River, B.C., product because the team had moved to his home province.

We heard rumours of it our last year in Quad City.

I got excited at first. I just never thought it would happen, Cunning said.

I still wanted to push for a spot up here, but when the time came and I went down, it was pretty neat to play in front of family and friends.

Dress rehearsal

The Red and White scrimmage Monday at Max Bell is more than just a drill, in head coach Brent Sutters mind.

I think its really important. If it wasnt important, we wouldnt do it, Sutter said Sunday.

Its a change. Its something different in camp. I said there would be some changes here in the way we do things, both on and off the ice. That was something that was discussed.

Mondays groups are the ones that will play split games Tuesday when the team takes on the Canucks in Calgary and Vancouver.

Its been five months since some of these guys have been in a hockey game. I want to see a hockey game (Monday).

Going camping

Mikael Backlund didnt participate in Sundays practice but has full clearance for Mondays Red and White game. He took a stick in the face Saturday and was nicked around the eye and had to be stitched up ... The Flames sent junior players Michael Ferland (Brandon) and Ryan Howse (Chilliwack) back to their WHL clubs Sunday. Both were dealing with injuries during camp.


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