The boyhood dream is still alive for Lynn Loyns.
You know the one -- scoring the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Even if Loyns, a part-time player during the regular season, is considered a longshot to play in such a critical game for the Calgary Flames, his chances are much better today than when he had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left ankle in late April.
At that point, the gritty left-winger thought his NHL season was over.
But five weeks and one day later, Loyns is back skating with the Flames in the 2004 Stanley Cup final.
He took the ice for practice eight days ago in Tampa.
"You never know -- you always dream about being a Game 7 hero," said Loyns, who figures the ankle is strong enough should he get the call from GM-head coach Darryl Sutter. "It is a small chance but I'm going to be as ready as possible if the chance arises. It gives me that small chance to feel that I can get in the lineup and be a difference for the team."
Better yet, it gives him a positive feeling about the upcoming off-season, when he can return to preparing for the rest of what he hopes is a long NHL future, preferably with the Flames.
"The ankle was always sturdy, even from the time I injured it," said Loyns, who tore the ligaments when he caught a rut in the Saddledome ice during practice for the Round 2 series against the Detroit Red Wings.
"But this is an injury that can be re-injured really easily, so we have to be careful. I was just excited to get skating again. When you're off skates for four weeks, this just makes me feel better. I think now I know I can have a good summer of training."
There is, however, one more obstacle for the affable Loyns.
He has one major stress test yet to pass, aimed at determining the cause of an atrial flutter in his heart diagnosed on the final day of the regular season.
Although he's been given medical clearance to play again, Loyns says doctors are uncertain whether it was a viral infection, multiple electrical pulses or something else causing his heart to be stimulated too often.
According to medical authorities, an atrial flutter can cause a higher-than-usual risk of stroke.
"That kinda concerns me," added the 23-year-old native of Naicam, Sask. "When the season's done, I'm going to have a bunch more tests done and get some second opinions to make sure what's going on. My contract's done at the end of this season, so I've got to make sure I'm healthy."
Loyns has shot at lineup return
TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun
, Last Updated: 12:16 PM ET