Flames call-up can get physical

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:43 PM ET

Lance Bouma made a big impression as a 16-year-old with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.

One game in particular stands out to former Giants teammate Brendan Mikkelson. The Giants lost the WHL final to the Medicine Hat Tigers in double overtime in Game 7 but got their revenge as Memorial Cup hosts, winning the final 3-1.

“I’ve been through the trenches with him,” Mikkelson said of the Calgary Flames call-up, who played in his first NHL game Saturday night at the Saddledome. “Boumer turned the tide in the first period (of the championship game). He ran (defenceman Kris) Russell a few times, their best player, and then you didn’t see much of Russell the rest of the game.

“He ran him through the end wall. I remember that hit vividly.”

Milan Lucic had a huge shift during which he dropped three big hits on Tigers players and then dropped the gloves at the end of it.

But Bouma’s hit on Russell still sticks out in Mikkelson’s mind as the game-changer.

“It wasn’t even close after that,” Mikkelson said. “As a 16 year old, to have an impact on that big of a game, we all knew what kind of player he was.

“To see him get the opportunity (in the NHL), it’s well-earned.”

To get the opportunity to make his debut at the Saddledome against the Los Angeles Kings on Hockey Night in Canada was a dream come true for Bouma, who grew up in Provost, Alta.

“I’ve been having trouble sleeping the last couple nights,” Bouma said with a smile that didn’t leave his face all morning.

The former Giants captain probably hasn’t stopped grinning since getting word Wednesday from acting Flames GM Jay Feaster he’d be joining the team. Bouma couldn’t make it to Atlanta because of the storm sweeping the U.S., but that just made it possible for an army of Bouma’s family members to take in his first NHL game.

He said 20 family members made the drive, including his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

“I’m sure there’s a ton of friends coming, too,” Bouma said.

Fellow Provost product Curtis Glencross planned to take the 20-year-old for lunch and offer a little advice.

“We’ve all been there. Just do what got you here,” Glencross said. “Just keep it simple and easy, and everything will fall into place.”

It’s been working at the AHL level, where Bouma has 11 goals and 19 points in 49 games in his first season as a pro.

In his best junior season, Bouma never scored more than 14 times.

He’s more known for his energetic play, which is what Flames fans can expect more of in the future.

“He’s a big body throwing himself around,” said linemate Mikael Backlund, who played against Bouma in the WHL in 2008-09. “He scared our d-men in the playoffs. There were some big battles.

“He’s a good player to have on your team. He brings a lot of energy.

“I don’t like playing against him, but I like having him on my team. He’s that kind of player. Just hitting everything, he’s pretty heavy to play against.”


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