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On The Farm 11/16/01

Flames winless in three fall to last place

Aaron McCracken

November 16, 2001

After coming off a strong performance last weekend, the Saint John Flames continued their inconsistent performance as they went winless in three games this week.   Despite outstanding efforts from Kay Whitmore on Wednesday and Friday night, the Flames were unable to generate enough offense to win, settling for a 2-2 tie and a 2-1 loss respectively.  Saturday night was more of the same – save for two surprising goals in seven seconds from defenseman Steve Montador – as the Flames lost 5-3 to the expansion Bridgeport Sound Tigers.   While the Flames have been getting the puck on net (average of 35 shots per game), they have been unable to generate many quality scoring chances.  Forwards Jason Botterill, Daniel Marois, and Oleg Saprykin were kept off the scoreboard during the week, and the Flames power play scored just once in 12 chances.

Coach Jim Playfair was reportedly displeased with the team effort and will certainly address that issue this week in practice.  Playfair's system requires hard skating and relentless checking, something to which the several newcomers on the squad are evidently still adapting.  Playfair has been willing to be patient in the past with younger players, and that will likely be his approach this season.  

While this year's Flames squad has been disappointing, it is important to remember that last year's team had a losing record in late November before going on a tear that would end up seeing them win the Calder Cup.  Saint John fans are hoping that Playfair can once again perform his magic on team that is void of any superstar prospects.

Who's Hot…
  • Blair Betts has continues to be Saint John's most consistent player at both ends of the ice. He leads the team with 15 points and is a +3.

  • Journeyman winger Jeff Mitchell recorded his first two goals of the season this week and was one of the few bright spots on the team.    

  • Sophomore Steve Montador had 2 goals on 15 shots and was +3 during the week.  While his two goals came on former #1 pick Rick DiPietro, they weren't very pretty. 

Who's Not…

  • Oleg Saprykin was a healthy scratch on Saturday and is officially in coach Jim Playfair's doghouse after three sub-par games.  Saprykin was ejected from Wednesday's game after a vicious slash on Portland's J-F Fortin.

  • Daniel Marois has been unimpressive after his two-goal Flames debut in mid-October.   Despite playing on the first line, he has been unable to record a point in the last seven games.

  • Levente Szuper remains winless in his last four outings after a 5-3 loss on Saturday night.  Szuper has been officially relegated to the back-up role as veteran Kay Whitmore has been very strong all season.

By the Numbers…

  • The Flames are 2nd in the league with 35.4 shots per game but are 23rd (out of 27 teams) with only 2.5 goals per game.

  • Kay Whitmore is 5th in the league with a 1.96 GAA.

  • Rick Mrozik leads the team at +7.

News and Notes…

  • Burke Henry made his Saint John debut on Wednesday and recorded a pair of assists.

  • Mike Martin missed the weekend action with an undisclosed injury.  Word is that he could miss several weeks.

  • Micki Dupont will return to the team this week after playing with the National Team at the Sweden games.

Alumni Watch…

  • Rico Fata made a memorable debut with the Hartford Wolf Pack on Wednesday with a 2-goal, 1st star performance.    

  • Derrick Walser leads the Crunch with 12 points (4G, 8A), but is an ugly –13 (2nd worst in the AHL)

  • Other Flames alumni leading their teams in scoring include Dave Roche, Jarrod Skalde, and Mark Greig.

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




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