Saint John Weekend Wrap Up

New Season ... Same Result

Aaron McCracken

October 9th, 2001

Many Saint John Flames fans were upset with the dismantling of last year’s Calder Cup winning team.   However if this weekend’s performance is any indication, the fans may change their minds very soon.  The Flames swept the opening weekend of the season against the division rival Manitoba Moose with two convincing victories.  

On Friday night, the Flames opened with a dominating 3-1 win over the Moose.   Blair Betts, David Huntzicker, and Alan Letang scored for the Flames, while Kay Whitmore made 17 saves for his first win as a Flames.   

On Saturday night, both teams switched goaltenders, but the result was essentially the same.  The Moose looked much better in their 2nd game of the season, but still ended up on the short side of a 4-2 Flames’ win.   Levente Szuper stopped 36 shots, many of them in dazzling fashion, while Betts, Jukka Hentunen, Jason Botterill, and Dwayne Hay all notched markers for the Flames. 

While the Flames looked good this weekend, they will need to work on their penalty kill (3 goals in 12 chances) and their play in the 3rd period. 

Who’s Hot…

·       Jukka Hentunen -  Nominated for AHL player of the week.  An impressive debut, which will likely make him the Flames’ first call-up.

Saint John’s Line-up

Wright – Betts – Hentunen

Botterill – Murray – Bembridge

Hay – Morgan – Christie

Mitchell – Stayzer

 

 Dupont – Mrozik

Martin – Letang

Huntzicker - Roy

 Scratches:  Henry (knee), Montador (eye), and Sutter (healthy)

·       Blair Betts – Played like a confident #1 center.

·      Jamie Wright – Played with Betts and Hentunen and recorded 3 assists.

·       Alan Letang – Should make Saint John fans forget about Derrick Walser.

Who’s Not…

·       Ryan Christie – Barely noticeable…

·       Blair Stayzer and Jeff Mitchell --  Saw limited icetime this weekend as Playfair consistently rolled three lines.

By the Numbers…

·       Hentunen leads all AHL rookies with 3 points.

·       Szuper is 5th in the AHL with a save percentage of .947.

News and Notes…

·       Steve Montador took a stick to the eye in practice on Thursday.  He’ll be out for about a week, and will return wearing a visor. 

·       The Flames haven’t named a captain yet.  Rob Murray, Mike Martin, and Jamie Wright are all serving as assistants. 

·       The AHL has implemented a new faceoff procedure this year where the puck is dropped within 15 seconds.   As a result, both games on the weekend were took less than 2 hours and 15 minutes to play.

Aaron covers the Saint John Flames for Calgary Puck / Fire on Ice. He can be reached at aaron@canoemail.com.