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Hopefuls looking to make most of chance with cuts com

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers /

CALGARY, AB -- No one needs to be reminded of the schedule.

The calendar, freshly turned to October, depicts the docket.

Twelve days before opening night.

Six practice days.

Three exhibition skates.

Few chances remaining to make an impact.

"It's real important because now the games, I think, are more and more NHL guys in lineups," Calgary Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. "Now these games are going to be more NHL-type hockey games. Now it's important for those guys to show that they can play at this level. The PTO guys that have played at this level … now it's time to step up your game.

"It's time to go now.

"Most of our veteran guys know what the spots that are open are. The young guys, hey, play your game. Make sure you've got the details of your game dialed in.

"The veteran guys know what's at stake."

The Flames host the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday and Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday before concluding their pre-season schedule at the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

Not a lot of time left to make an impact.

Not with roster cuts coming.

"I'm trying every chance I get now,' Flames hopeful Ryan Lomberg said. "You've got to make the most of it. Every chance in practice, every rep you have, you have to go as hard as you can because they're watching and that might make the difference to get into a game or not. That's what I want. I want one more game. Then another game. Then another game. I want to do whatever I can to keep getting games."

The 21-year-old is fighting to land an NHL contract.

Lomberg is already signed a minor-league deal with Stockton of the American Hockey League, but senses a strong showing would be a great help to his big-league aspirations.

So too does Lauri Korpikoski, who is in camp on a professional try-out trying to net another NHL deal.

The veteran of 540 career NHL games with the New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, and Edmonton Oilers knows that he's got to make the most of the remaining schedule.

A contract lies in the balance.

"It is a little bit of a different feeling, my first time doing this," he said. "I think every camp you have the approach that you either have to win or maintain your job. Always you've got to make sure you're ready to go and do what you've got. It's a little different approach but it's been fine so far.

"The next game is important, and the one after that. Funny how it goes down to a couple exhibition games here. That's how it goes. I'll just try to play the best I can [Sunday] and go from there."

Sunday would be the day.

The roster will be trimmed Monday.

"We'll probably be down to 16 and 10, 16 and nine. Somewhere in there," Gulutzan said. "That's our number. Depending on how the game goes Sunday we'll see if we're 17 and 10, 16 and 10, 16 and nine.

"We'll see where we go."

Linden Vey hopes he doesn't go.

The 25-year-old wants to leave enough of an impact to be a part of the group that sticks around.

Vey, signed to a one-year, two-way contract in July, knows the challenge the remaining schedule presents.

"The next one that I get the opportunity to get into is an important one," Vey said. "The first two (games) you can maybe get back into things. You can only say that for so long. You've got to make sure you're ready and show what you can.

"You only focus on what you can control, and that's your play on the ice. I've been to a few camps over the last few years. I know what the situation is. I can just focus on making sure I go out there and work hard and do the best I can."

The grade on that will come Monday. For Vey, and others hoping for a prolonged stay in Calgary.

Because the window to make an impact is shrinking.

And so is the roster.

"There will be a lot of activity after the game (Sunday)," Gulutzan said.

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