Scares but thankfully I think at this stage there’s nothing to worry about. That's the good thing. - Ryan Huska
PENTICTON, BC -- First, it was Sam Bennett who was noticeable by his absence. Then, it was Johnny Gaudreau sprawled on the ice after taking a stiff forearm.
But the panic caused by both was all for naught.
“Scares but thankfully I think at this stage there’s nothing to worry about,” said coach Ryan Huska following Monday’s 6-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks to close out the Young Stars Classic. “That’s the good thing. Sam in particular was more a precautionary thing. We wouldn’t want to see him have to go into main camp not feeling the way he wants to feel so we wanted him to be 100 percent for main camp and that’s the reason we didn’t put him back in in the third period.
“He’ll be fine. Johnny’s fine. We’re fortunate.”
After playing in the first two periods, Bennett -- Calgary’s top pick (No. 4) in the 2014 NHL Draft -- was held out of the third in the lopsided victory.
If he’d have had his way, he would’ve soldiered on.
“(It’s) a lot of hockey for me and my groin was acting up a little bit,” said Bennett, who along with Gaudreau skated in each of Calgary’s three games in Penticton. “It really wasn’t anything serious, just the coaching staff, talking to them, they felt it would be best if I rest it for the third period and just make sure I’m 100 percent for training camp.
“I wanted to get back out there. They came in and were like, ‘we think we’re going to rest you for the rest of the game’. Obviously I want to go out there but they know what’s best.”
Gaudreau’s moment late in the game was equally as tense.
Skating down the left wing, the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner took a hard forearm to the head from Canucks defenceman Frank Corrado. Gaudreau was slow to get up while Corrado received a five-minute elbowing penalty and a game misconduct on the play.
“The shift before they went after Hunter Shinkaruk and I saw an opportunity to make a hit on one of their skill players,” Corrado told media afterwards. “I never intended for it to be a dirty hit, unfortunately it was a little late and a little high.”
Fortunately for the Flames, though, Gaudreau’s just fine.
“Completely fine,” he said. “I was bleeding a little bit. That’s about it.
“You’re going to get hit. It’s hockey. Being a smaller guy, you’ve got to keep your head on a swivel and make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and aware of the players around you. I had my head down there and I should’ve kept my head up there. It happens.”
Gaudreau, along with center Markus Granlund, didn’t get another shift following the altercation.
“It’s probably one of my bigger hits in my career that I’ve been hit,” Gaudreau said. “You just have to get right back up and get ready for the next shift. I think coach kept me and [Granlund] off since we were winning 5-1. There’s no point to put us out there at the end of the game.
“I was ready for the next shift whether I played or not.”
Still, the absences of Gaudreau and Bennett caused a brief stir.
It’s not a surprise given their importance to the organization, Huska admitted.
“They’re important players,” he said. “They’re a big part of the picture, whether it be this year, down the road or in a few years time. And they’re good hockey players. People know them, too. They have a following. I think that’s probably one of the big reasons.
“As I said, nothing really to worry about, which we’re thankful for.”