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Flames lose Calder Cup opener

By Aaron McCracken
May 19, 2001

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

  • Coach Jim Playfair's comments on the Flames' effort "I believe that coaching has a big reflection on the start of the game. We have to re-evaluate what happened there. If we played three periods like we played the third period I think that we could have made a better game of it."

  • Harbour Station was sold out for the first time in three years.

  • There were over 100 screaming fans from Wilkes-Barre at the Station. It's over a 16 hour drive from Northern Pennsylvania to Southern Saint John, so they deserve quite a bit of credit!

  • Neither team scored on the Power Play. The Flames were 0-for-4, the Pens were 0-for-3.

  • The line of Murray, Botterill, and Varlamov were on the ice for three of the Pens' goals. Botterill had a horrible game, and appeared lost at times.

Flames Goals

  1. Walser (Tkaczuk)

  2. Dupont (Tkaczuk)

  3. Fata (Varlamov, Betts)

Aaron's Three Stars

  1. Daniel Tkaczuk.

  1. Alexandre Mathieu

  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).