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Best Of 2015: On-Ice Moments

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

With 2016 right around the corner, CalgaryFlames.com poured over highlights from 2015 to compile a list of our favourite moments from the last year.

Obviously, the early portion of the year was overflowing with on-ice highlights thanks to an incredible run to the playoffs and then making it to the Western Conference semi-finals! And while the start to the 2015-16 season was rough, the boys turned things around and have put themselves back in the playoff race in the NHL's Pacific Division.

It was a tough task whittling down our favourite moments, fraught with debates about each moment's merits and why it should make the cut. If one of your favourite moments didn't make it on our list, make sure to share it in the comment section!

Now, without further ado, here are our top 10 moments of 2015 ... in no particular order because the consternation that went into cutting our list down to 10 was enough!

STAJAN'S GOAL IN GAME 6 VS. THE CANUCKS

What. A. Game.

After falling behind 3-0 in Game 6 of their first round series against the Vancouver Canucks, the Flames yet again displayed that never-quit attitude that defined them last season and got themselves back into the game.

Tied at 4-4 late in the third, Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler turned the puck over in the neutral zone and David Jones scooped it up, heading into the offensive zone with linemates Matt Stajan and Micheal Ferland. Jones fired it on Ryan Miller, Ferland was able to get another shot on net on the rebound, and then Stajan snapped up the second rebound. The veteran held it for a second, settling the puck, before wiring it above Miller's shoulder to make it a 5-4 game with just 4:17 left in regulation.

The goal ended up clinching the series for the Flames and the atmosphere at the 'Dome was absolutely electric.

BENNETT'S FIRST NHL GOAL

Sam Bennett spent his childhood dreaming about scoring his first NHL goal but he probably didn't envision that milestone occurring at the age of 18, during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or in his home-ice debut.

The Flames 2014 first round pick netted his first goal in Game 3 of the team's first round series against the Canucks, which was also his first game at the Scotiabank Saddledome. With Eddie Lack down, he shoveled the puck into the back of the net and extended his team's lead to 3-1 in the second period.

The Flames went on to win Game 3 4-2 and Bennett was named the third star of the night.

"You should have seen the smile on this kid's face on the bench after his first goal, but he brings so much," Flames coach Bob Hartley said afterwards. "He makes things happen out there. His speed, his determination … he's a special young man."

FLAMES CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT

April 9, 2015 will go down as one of the most memorable days of the year for Flames fans. The team clinched a playoff berth in a game against the LA Kings, the defending Stanley Cup Champions, in front of an absolutely raucous home crowd at the 'Dome.

Jiri Hudler iced the win for his team, scoring his second goal of the game on an empty net and quelled any hope of a Kings comeback in the third period. The Flames skated away with a 3-1 victory over LA.

Given the team was counted out by many before the 2014-15 season even started, the victory was even sweeter for the tight-knit group.

"We have a group of guys that not many people believed in but internally we did," Kris Russell said after the game. "To do it with the group we did it was pretty special. At the same time I think there's a feeling here that we're not done yet. It's one thing to get in the playoffs. Now it's to compete, and that's what we're aiming to do."

RAMO'S UNBELIEVABLE SAVE AGAINST THE RANGERS

Save of the 2014-15 season? We certainly think so.

On Feb. 24, the Flames paid a visit to the New York Rangers and Karri Ramo made an absolutely spectacular stop on what looked to be a sure-fire goal for JT Miller.

A point shot from the blueline ended up slipping past Ramo but rebounded off the goal post. The puck landed right in front of Miller, who had a wide open cage staring at him and he didn't hesitate to one-time it from the side of the net. Ramo somehow managed to get himself up from the first shot and dove across the blue paint to get a glove on Miller's attempt.

As Peter Loubardias would say, that was some kind of save.

GAUDREAU FORCES OT IN GAME 3

The Flames faced the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs and ran into trouble in the first two games. They fell behind 2-0 in the series after the first set of games in Anaheim and headed back to Calgary in search of a win.

Johnny Gaudreau helped provide that.

The winger forced overtime in Game 3 when he scored with just 19.5 seconds remaining in regulation, beating Frederik Andersen when he came off the half-wall and fired a shot high short side.

The Flames would go on to win in overtime, with Mikael Backlund netting the game-winner with his first NHL playoff goal.

BENNETT SCORES HIGHLIGHT REEL GOAL AGAINST PENGUINS

Ian Cole, meet Sam Bennett.

The Flames rookie's slick toe drag around the veteran defenceman led to one of the prettiest goals the team has scored this year. After dancing around Cole and getting the fans at the 'Dome on their feet, he beat Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in tight with a foreback-backhand move that slipped underneath him.

"I was just holding it," said Bennett. "I was thinking of shooting and then he reached a little bit. It was a fast play, but I just pulled it inside and I'm happy it worked. Once I made the first move the next thing I knew I was one-on-one with Fleury. I just made a move and I'm happy it went in."

JOHNNY HAT TRICK

In a wild game against the Boston Bruins on Dec. 4, Johnny Gaudreau played the hero when he registered his second career hat trick in a 5-4 OT victory -- a hat trick that was capped off with him scoring the overtime winner.

His first goal came just 33 seconds of the game, scoring on the Flames first shot on net, and then he added his second in the middle frame. Receiving a pass from Jiri Hudler while he was below the goal line, Gaudreau was able to shovel the puck past Jonas Gustavsson's pad.

The 22-year-old ended the game when he took a pass from Dougie Hamilton in the slot, skated in, and deked around Tuukka Rask with 1:40 remaining in extra time.

Gaudreau ended up with four points in the win and was the game's first star.

COMEBACK IN DALLAS

On Mar. 30, the Flames took on the Stars in Dallas in what could be a called a must-win match-up. With a log-jam in the Western Conference playoff race, the two points they collected at the American Airlines Center were a huge boon for the postseason hopes and gave them a ton of steam heading into their final regular season contests in April.

After the Stars took a 2-1 lead in the first period, the Flames scored three goals in the middle frame and Dallas could not recover thanks to the stellar play of goaltender Jonas Hiller, who made 33 saves that night.

"Our players are working hard. We always find a way to get back in games," Bob Hartley said. "That speaks volumes about the leadership of this hockey club and the fact that our young players are really focusing on being good teammates and listening to our leaders."

FROLIK'S FIRST HAT TRICK

Michael Frolik, one of the Flames off-season acquisitions last summer, recorded his first hat trick in dramatic fashion on Oct. 31 in Edmonton.

The Czech winger's first goal came in the first period, when he gave his team a 2-0 lead over their provincial rivals when he capitalized on a miscue by Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot. The netminder came out to play the puck, gave it to Matt Stajan, and he fed it to a wide open Frolik who had an empty net to deposit it into.

His second game also came in the first period, when a shot from Kris Russell deflected off him and past Talbot.

And then, with the game tied 4-4 thanks to a late surge from the Oilers, he scored the game-winner with just 8.7 seconds left in the contest. He took a shot from below the goal line in the corner and it somehow slipped past Talbot.

"From the bench we couldn't tell if the puck was inside the net or on the outside of the net, but once we saw the guys jump on the ice, then we knew it was in, so it was a pretty good feeling," Bob Hartley said. "We knew that they have so much speed and they kept coming. After they scored on that power play early in the third period, we knew they would get the momentum. The crowd was behind them, they got the equalizer and we kept going. Michael Frolik gave us quite a game."

A THIRD PERIOD TO REMEMBER

While the Flames stop in Ottawa on Mar. 8 didn't result in two points, it was one of the most memorable third periods the team played all year.

The Senators had a 4-0 lead after 40:00 but that didn't diminish the Flames spirits when they entered the third period. They hammered away at the Senators and managed to send the game into overtime with goals from Joe Colborne, Mikael Backlund, and Kris Russell (2).

The Flames ended up falling 5-4 in a shootout but their unwavering belief in their ability to claw their way back into games at least secured them a point in a tight Pacific Division playoff race.

"The character we've built over the last years, it's really paying off in games like this," Bob Hartley explained. "The guys after the second period they were like mad, disappointed with themselves, but at the same time there was that belief. That's something we've cultivated over the past months. Once we got one, it was electric on the bench. We had that sense that we would make it happen. We had them on their heels, and that's a huge point."

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