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HOWLIN' GOOD TIME

Dustin Wolf stands tall between the pipes in victory over Oil prospects

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

The periodic wolf-howl sound effect over the Scotiabank Saddledome sound system provided an apropos touch.

"Obviously as a goalie you want a few more shots," acknowledged Dustin Wolf, encircled by media post-game. "But at the same time whatever it takes to get a win is what you want to do.

"I thought going into warm-ups I was feeling pretty comfortable. I felt I was on fire in warm-ups. I just came out and I thought I played pretty well.

"Unfortunate bounce, but you can't stop 'em all when you can't see 'em."

The feel-good story of the 2019 entry draft held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, goaltender Wolf was selected by the Flames late on Day 2, 214th overall, despite posting Original Six-stingy numbers - 41 wins, a .936 save percentage and 1.69 GAA - for the WHL Everett Silvertips last season.

Tuesday, he wore the red jersey he one day hopes to don on a regular basis for the full 60 minutes in the second of two prospects tilts versus the Edmonton Oilers.

The Flames' kids ran out convincing 3-1 winners on the night, outshooting the Oilers 43-19 along the way.

"Never easy when you're not getting a lot of shots," critiqued Flames' goaltending guru Jordan Sigalet of Wolf's evening. "Especially when other guy at the far end (Olivier Rodrigue) is getting peppered and playing well.

"So it was a good mental test for Dustin to stay focussed. Unfortunately on the goal it hit our stick and went in. But you can see how well he reads the play. A couple times there he was standing up to make saves because he's reading the shot.

"At his stature you have to play the shot well. I don't think he plays small for a guy his size, though, Because of his smarts he plays big, he's always square, tracks the puck better than most goalies out there.

"So even if he didn't get a lot of action you could see some of the assets of his game."

 

Video: "Good to get the first one under the belt"

 

Glenn Gawdin staked the Flames to a lead 36 seconds after opening puck-drop before Adam Ruzicka doubled the advantage at 6:31. As mentioned, the Oilers hit back four seconds into a third-period powerplay on a bit of bad luck for Wolf before Matthew Phillips, Calgary's OT hero Saturday at Red Deer, slotted into an empty net with 44.7 seconds remaining.

"I think that (Wolf) looked comfortable in there," said Stockton Heat boss Cail McLean, in charge of the Flames' prospects. "Unfortunate bounce on the goal in terms of the tip, it went up high and he lost sight of it.

"But overall the team looked confident in front of him and it was a good outing for him."

Thursday, the big boys make their appearance, training camp proper opens and the dynamics seismically shift.

"We try to talk about the principles the Flames look for in their play,'' said McLean. "We're reminding them of that and having them understand if they can keep those principles in mind they'll benefit from the structure.

"It's really gonna get ramped up. The size of the players, the speed of the players they're going against is gonna be way different.

"It was a good week thus far but you've got to make sure you kick it up another notch."
Wolf can't wait.

"Just continue to do what I'm doing,'' he reasoned. "Everything's going to step up a bit and I've got to come prepared. Really excited and hoping for the best."

The important thing is that Wolf's tenure as a Flame is off to a victorious start.

"For me,'' said Wolf, "it was just another hockey game. 

"I'm just gonna keep working hard and getting better. Hopefully in a couple of years I'll be up here.

"Who knows?"

Who in their right mind would bet against him?

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