SUN Hockey Pool

Glencross one goal away from mark

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

CALGARY - There was a time Curtis Glencross never thought he'd make it to the NHL, never mind become a 20-goal contributor at the game's top level.

One more tally is all that separates the 28-year-old from accomplishing just that.

He had a shot at it with the Stars goalie pulled in the dying seconds of a 4-2 Flames victory over Dallas Wednesday at the Saddledome. He'll get another crack at the milestone in Sunday's Heritage Classic.

Goalie pulled or not, Glencross is gunning for that goal he's had set for himself since becoming a regular in the league. Among others, Jarome Iginla teased him after the Stars game, commenting on what his plaque would have said commemorating his first 20-goal season if he'd hit the empty net.

"Iggy said after the game, 'You don't want EN (for empty netter) on your plaque on the wall for your 20th," Glencross said with a laugh in a busy Flames locker-room Friday afternoon.

"I'll take any goal."

Every season, he collects more of them, apparently gaining confidence along the way. Glencross sniped 15 last season in 67 games, setting a new personal best but falling short of his ultimate goal largely due to a leg injury that kept him on the sidelines down the stretch.

Now he's on the verge of doing something he never really thought possible a little more than a decade ago.

"It's finally where you want to be. It's one of them things where I've been striving (for 20 goals) the last couple of years and injuries have brought me away from it," said the product of Provost, Alta. "It's actually nice to meet that goal and hopefully defeat it. That's all you can ask for as a player."

Although he's a big believer in the idea of setting goals, Glencross had never imagined this would be one of them -- a life in the NHL, making more than a million in salary in a calendar year -- when he was toiling as a teenager in the C Division of the Northeast Alberta Hockey League for the Provost Lonkar midgets.

"When I was playing midget hockey back in Provost, in my small town, I never thought I'd be playing hockey past minor hockey," Glencross said. "I thought I'd be working with my old man, or working somewhere."

His dad, Mel, runs a livestock auction market in Red Deer, selling cattle.

Before a scout from the AJHL's Brooks Bandits noticed him stand out during a game in midget, that was what Glencross always figured lied ahead of him, too.

"That's probably somewhere my career would have been headed after high school," he said.

But doors open. His draft-eligible years passed with no interest from the NHL, but after two strong seasons with the Bandits, he was recruited by the University of Alaska (Anchorage) Seawolves.

Helping them to the Final Five of the WCHA playoffs as a sophomore -- upsetting powerhouse Wisconsin along the way -- Glencross was offered yet another opportunity when the Anaheim Ducks decided to give him a shot.

His hard work with the Columbus Blue Jackets (who grabbed him in a deal with the Ducks) led to a trade to the Edmonton Oilers. Then the Flames signed him away as a free agent in the summer of 2008, and his career has take off.

"Every step just kept coming and coming," Glencross said. "I was kind of in awe and in shock the whole time."

Grateful to find himself on the verge of doing something he never thought possible, the winger found himself sharing that thought with locker neighbour and rookie Mikael Backlund Friday.

"I was talking to Mikael before practice here today and I was like, we've got it pretty good," said Glencross, who could be an unrestricted free agent this summer. "To be able to come to the rink and get paid for the game you love and get paid well for it, it's pretty good."

And the pay for a 20-goal scorer is even better.

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