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THAT'S A WRAP!

Flames.com's Ryan Dittrick breaks down another successful Development Camp, talking about who stood out and what the brass thought about their play

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / calgaryflames.com

There's no other sound like it. 

A clang! so shrill, so immediately recognizable, it promptly conveys a powerful sense of drama, intensified. 

All the better if it swiftly veers into the heart of the guarded six-by-four.

"Oh," laughed Martin Pospisil, the Flames' fourth-round pick - 105th overall - in the 2018 Draft, on Day 2 of Development Camp "I was having some fun out there. 

"Bar down, all day.

"Love it."

Sure, the deafening vibrato is admittedly less awesome if you're the one defending the red-dressed, iron-clad frame ("That was a bit of an awakening," Dustin Wolf - the Flames' seventh-round pick in this past draft - chuckled afterward. "Didn't exactly roll out the welcome mat did they?!").

But for the shooters?

A picker's delight.

"I love practices like that, where I can really show what I can do," Pospisil said of the one-on-one-with-the-goalie, quick-release-type drills he - quite clearly - excelled at this week. "I think I have a pretty good shot and I'm really trying to work on that so that I'm better and even more effective next year.

"And those are the types of things we worked on this week.

"Hopefully they noticed how much I've improved."

 

 

They being the coaching, management and player development staffs that combined to put on this little shindig over the past week at WinSport. 

And, yes, they were quite clearly impressed with what Pospisil and other second- and third-year prospects were able to do during a midsummer exhibition like this.

While none of the intel derived from the weeklong session will used to evaluate the players against their peers, the individual improvements among the veterans bared 
what the organization hopes to achieve, year over year. 

Progression.

In all forms.

"We talk about goals, for us as organization and for these 39 guys, as individuals in their craft," said Ray Edwards, the Flames' Director of Player Development. "That's what we want to see.

"The first-year guys are just getting their feet wet, but it's those second- and third-year guys, or the ones who have some pro experience already, that we want to see take a step. 

"In some cases, a big step.

"Plenty of guys were able to do that."

 

 

Pospisil was among many who stood in the camp's grand finale, a controlled scrimmage in front of a packed house of diehard Flames fans on a hot summer day.

Naturally, the powerful, 6-foot-2, 181-lb. Slovak made his presence felt, dishing a beautiful, open-ice hip check reminiscent of Denis Gauthier early on, before unloading a slapshot from the hash marks, buzzing the tower and scoring over the shoulder of Tyler Parsons in the shootout. 

Wire to wire, he certainly plays with an edge, as if his 253 penalty minutes in his draft year didn't say it already. 

Matthew Phillips, with a pair of goals - one set up by 2019 first-round selection Jakob Pelletier - and one assist, Denver University freshman Emilio Pettersen, Swedish pro Filip Sveningsson, and Stockton vet Robert Hamilton also had strong outings.

But no one arguably showed more than young Demetrios Koumontzis, who dominated the game on every shift and scored a filthy goal midway through to help power Group A to the eventual victory. 

Speed, skill and smarts, all on display.

"He's older, he's stronger, he's physically more developed with a year of college under his belt," said general manager Brad Treliving, unprompted, prior to Sunday's game. "That's what I see, what I've taken away from this week. 

"There's a lot of that with the guys that have been here for a year. You try to get a sense of the first-year guys, but for me, it's watching those guys take a step from where they were a year ago. More mature, more comfortable in their surroundings."

 

 

Koumontzis, 19, was drafted by the Flames in 2018, and is coming off his freshman year at Arizona State University where he tallied four goals and 20 points in 34 games. 

He's not overly big at 5-foot-10 and at 185-lbs., but he's nearly impossible to knock off the puck. 

Combine that with a powerful stride and beastly, top-end speed, and Koumontzis - a Minnesota native who comes from a big, Greek family - adds a fascinating element to Calgary's forward pipeline.

"Like Tre said, I came here this year with more confidence - more belief in my ability at this level," he said. "It's almost like the adjustment I had making the jump from high-school hockey to college last year. You get that first game or that first week under your belt and you start finding your legs. 

"You're like, 'OK, I belong here.'

"Same thing here.

"I came to the camp this week with the intention of being loose and playing free. I think I was able to do that, and because of it, I was better able to show what I'm made of."

Koumontzis will be heading back to ASU this fall, so it'll be a while yet before fans can catch a glimpse of the talented left-winger in camp, or during an upcoming NHL pre-season game. 

Others, like Pospisil - who signed his entry-level contract in the spring of this year - free-agent signing Luke Philp, and 2017 fourth-round pick Adam Ruzicka are expected to make their pro debuts this season with the Flames' top affiliate.

The goal of the camp is to prepare the players for the next step, whatever that may be.

And while Treliving is cautious not to read too much into a summer showing like this, he's leaving this camp feeling good about where the organization sits, both now and in the future.

"Overall, I'm very impressed," he said. "It was very competitive, a good group of guys. I think Ray and the development staff have done a great job. It's a full agenda. ... They were cookin' pretty good all day and they've shown us what they can do."

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