Sting star stoked

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

When Matt Pelech's big moment came, he was busy thinking of somebody else.

Pelech, at home in Toronto, was watching the NHL Entry Draft on the tube, and was hoping to track down good friend Andrew Cogliano -- selected by Edmonton in the first round -- to offer his congratulations.

That call had to wait, though, because the Flames selected Pelech one pick later, 26th overall, in the first round of yesterday's festivities in Ottawa.

"I was so happy for Andrew and was trying to get him on the phone," Pelech recalls.

"The line was busy so I was just sitting there trying again hoping somebody would take the call then I heard my name called and suddenly everybody in the house was screaming.

"My head hit the roof I jumped so high."

The decision to watch the televised first round wasn't with the expectation Pelech would hear his name called out. It was just a good reason to host a barbecue for friends and family gathered with the belief his moment would come later in the day.

Instead came a surprise better than any package unwrapped Christmas morn.

"From what I heard, I was going to be chosen anywhere from the second to the fourth round. I didn't expect in the first, that's for sure," he says.

"My interview with the Flames went good but I had no idea it went that good."

In Pelech, the Flames have a big, solid, stay-at-home defenceman 6-ft. 4-in., 220-lb.

With the Sarnia Sting last season, he potted one goal and five assists but only played 31 games due to a pair of broken jaws, one suffered thanks to an elbow to the chops in the season opener, the second due to a cross check.

"The second was a totally different spot than the first one," Pelech says. "The doctor said it was just the biggest fluke because they had no connection.

"I've seen doctors who said my mandible bone is 100 percent healed. They said on the X-ray they can't even see the break any more.

"It was a tough season to go through so it's good to have something like this happen. This is such a confidence booster."

Though the injuries hampered Pelech's season, Flames scouting director Tod Button said that didn't deter Calgary from taking him.

"We saw him a lot early, not only early in the year, but also last year, too," Button says. "We knew a lot about him coming in and before the season started wanted to key on him. We thought we knew the kid well enough."

Pelech, an A-student in Grade 12 this year, is already becoming more acquainted with his potential teammates, though he already is familiar with a couple of them, namely Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr.

"I think it's great to have a guy like that in front of me," he says of Phaneuf.

"Some may think it puts me further down the totem pole but it's great to have good defencemen -- Robyn Regehr is a phenomenal defenceman -- to have as role models and help me through.

"Somebody told me a long time ago I could be like Robyn Regehr, so ever since then I've watched closely how he plays. Man, he's a great hockey player."

Funny how things work because now he and his good buddy -- he eventually did get a hold of Cogliano -- will now be on opposite sides of the Battle of Alberta.

"The Calgary-Edmonton thing, we were joking about that," Pelech says with a laugh.


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