February 21, 2011
Babchuk makes most of first outdoor experience
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
CALGARY - One of the few members of the Calgary Flames who didn’t grow up with much outdoor ice experience, Anton Babchuk made the most of it in the Heritage Classic.
The 26-year-old from the Ukraine didn’t grow up dreaming of an event like this.
He didn’t hit up the neighbourhood pond with his pals to practice under blue skies. The outdoor concept was completely foreign to him.
“I didn’t think it would be great like that,” the blueliner with the big shot said after the Flames blanked the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 at McMahon Stadium Sunday night.
“I like it.”
The 6-foot-5 defenceman scored a huge shorthanded goal to swing momentum back in the Flames’ favour 12:44 into the second period as the Habs started to claw back into the game.
He charged into the opponent’s end and tapped his stick, then made a swift adjustment to pick up Curtis Glencross’ pass and quickly roofed a snapshot right into the top corner on the blocker side before goalie Carey Price could get across.
“It was a great pass by Glennie. I just tried to put it in a corner,” Babchuk said. “But it was a really, really good pass.”
Glencross didn’t see it that way.
“I heard him coming down the slot. He made a great shot. Brought the big bomb from the point,” Glencross said before being told Babchuk was much closer than that.
“You know when he’s coming down and he’s tapping, he’s open and he wants the puck. You just get it to him.
“It wasn’t the best pass — he kind of had to move a bit to shoot it — but he got it off and it went in.”
The shortie deflated the Habs and got the Flames rolling again, giving the 41,002 fans who braved the elements exactly what they hoped for.
It was more than Babchuk expected.
“It’s a new experience, and I loved it,” said Babchuk.