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Stone boys can't wait to hit the ice against each other: "We were competitive with everything growing up. I'm looking forward to it."

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick /

LAS VEGAS - Parents Rob and Jackie aren't tied to one team or the other.

When it comes to the wardrobe choice when their two boys, Mark and Michael Stone face off against each other, they prefer to stay neutral.

"They won't be wearing anything," Michael said with a laugh. "No affiliation."

You could say this goes back.

Waaaaaay back to their minor hockey days in Winnipeg and later in the junior ranks when Michael patrolled the blueline with the Calgary Hitmen, and Mark - two years younger - was a dominant power forward with the powerhouse Brandon Wheat Kings.

"When we were younger, we played two playoff series' against each other," Michael said. "Then, the last game of my junior career was a loss in the Mem Cup to him, so ... I think my mom struggled with that a little bit. Now, it's fine. 

"Just hope nobody gets hurt."

Their parents will be on hand tonight as the Stone Bros. play each other for the first time as Pacific rivals. 

Mark, who was acquired by the Golden Knights at last year's trade deadline and promptly signed a lucrative, eight-year extension with the club, is one of the league's elite two-way forwards, and is already off to another torrid start with a team-leading six points (2G, 4A) in four games.

"I spent a little time at his house yesterday afternoon, and then went for dinner," Michael said. "We don't get a lot of time to do that, so it was nice that it fell on a day like that.

"You don't get that time - even in the summer - because we're not in the same city, so we don't get a lot of time to spend together. That's what I look forward to the most.

"Probably our parents do, too."

Stone, who made his regular-season debut in Thursday's victory over the Stars, missed 42 games last year due to a blood clot and was scratched in the first three to start the new campaign. He was rock-steady for the Flames, playing in only his fourth game over 
the past 11 months. 

The 29-year-old shook off the rust quite nicely and was credited with one hit, one blocked shot, and was +1 in 14:10 of ice time.

"I think it was a good first step getting back into it," Michael said. "It was a fast game, probably the quickest I've been in, in a long time. I was focusing my attention on that.

"I've played enough games to know what it's going to be like, so it didn't take that long. You get a quick first shift under your belt and you settle down, and understand that it's no different than the other games you've played in your career. 

"Just keep going."


Video: "I think it was a good first step."


Stone will again pair with TJ Brodie on the team's third unit, and will see spot duty on the PK as coach Bill Peters looks to keep the troops fresh in a back-to-back situation. 

The boss likes what the veteran has brought to the table so far, giving the Flames another right-handed option that helps "balance" the D pairs. 

But with Oliver Kylington waiting to get back in the lineup, it's likely we'll see No. 58 draw in tomorrow in San Jose. 

"We've had lots of time together prior to him going down with his injury (last year)," Peter said. "We're comfortable with Stoney, we've got lots of data and film on him as a Calgary Flame... so, we're very familiar with his game and what he brings to the table.

"Especially on the road, I think it's good to mix it up a little bit. Gives us some balance and I thought all three pairs had that in Dallas."

In the meantime, Stone is looking to make the most of his opportunity. 

"I want to get into a more consistent playing mode," he said. "That was the whole deal with the amount [I played] in the pre-season, and I welcomed that. It was nice to get into that playing-every-other-day routine. I felt good throughout.

"Just get into a routine, get into a rhythm, and just play. 

"You're not thinking about anything or reading too much into what's going on, you're just playing hockey."

But with his brother on the other side?

There's always a bit extra.

"We were competitive with everything growing up," Michael laughed. "I'm looking forward to it."

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