Flames lose Calder Cup opener
By Aaron McCracken
The expectations were high and the crowd was roaring, but the Saint John Flames failed to deliver a win in Game One of the Calder Cup final, falling 4-3 to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
With Flames' fans on their feet, the Penguins quieted the crowd early when Darcy Verot whacked home a rebound just 19 seconds into the first period after an ugly mistake by the Flames' defense. The Flames had a couple of chances to tie the game, but found themselves down 2-0 when Alexendre Mathieu ripped a shot past Martin Brochu on a two-on-one breakaway.
The Flames didn't look great in the 2nd period, but managed to pull within one when Derrick Walser shot a bullet from the point with 4 minutes remaining. But the Pens stormed right back and scored less than a minute later when Martin Sonnenberg crashed the net with the teams skating four-on-four.
The Flames didn't look any better early in the third, and the Pens made it 4-1 when Jason Botterill stood and watched Jason MacDonald wander in from behind the net and slip it by Brochu. While this seemingly put the game away for Wilkes-Barre, it was actually far from over. Micki Dupont scored from the point three minutes later to make it 4-2, and Rico Fata scored with 73 seconds left to put the Flames back within one. Unfortunately, Saint John couldn't create a good scoring chance in the final seconds of the game, and ended up on the short end of a 4-3 game. While the Flames played very strong in the 3rd period, their horrible decision making and shaky goaltending in the first two periods was just too costly.
Rich Parent made 38 saves for Wilkes-Barre, and look very solid. At the other end of the ice, Brochu seemed to fight the puck for most of the night and had a lot of trouble controlling rebounds. He finished with 21 saves on the night.
Game two is Saturday night, 7:00 ADT.
News and Notes
Aaron's Three Stars
1. Rich Parent
Lines and Roster update
Murray – Varlamov – Botterill
Tkaczuk – Begin -- Clark
Betts – Roche – Fata
Doull – Royer
Walser – Martin
Montador – Scoville
Mrozik – Dupont
Scratches: Chris St. Croix (healthy), Bobby Russell (healthy), Jeff Mitchell (healthy), Jamie Ling (healthy), Miika Elomo (out), Kenny Corupe (out), Jason Morgan (out), Dany Sabourin (healthy).