It’s always nice to get another game under your belt. It’s a little bit of confidence going into main camp if you play well and feel well. You get that jump in your step. If you have a bad game or a bad bounce, you have to bounce right back. - Bryce Van Brabant
CALGARY, AB -- Though it’s the eve of main camp, Calgary Flames prospects are focused on one final tune-up when they challenge the University of Calgary Dinos on Wednesday.
“It’s always nice to get another game under your belt,” said Bryce Van Brabant. “It’s a little bit of confidence going into main camp if you play well and feel well. You get that jump in your step. If you have a bad game or a bad bounce, you have to bounce right back.”
The competition will be no pushover for Flames youngsters.
The Dinos are coming off their best season since 1997 after finishing with a 21-4-3 record and went undefeated in regulation until the end of January.
And after falling 6-3 to the Flames in the exhibition showcase a year ago, the Dinos are ready for another shot at Calgary’s top rookies.
"The past couple times we have played them, we have come in with a bunch of injuries, but we are in pretty good shape right now," head coach Mark Howell told the Dinos website. "We are in a good situation where I expect us to compete and be competitive in this game. It is a good chance to showcase our game and our style of play."
Van Brabant is no stranger to CIS competition or the style of play. While playing with Quinnipiac, Van Brabant routinely played against Canadian colleges in tune-up games heading into the ECAC season.
Naturally, he knows what awaits the Flames on Wednesday.
“I expect them to try really hard,” he said. “Obviously it’s kind of a step up for them in a way. They want to prove themselves. It’s the same for us. It’ll be a good game. Both sides are going to be trying hard. It’ll get pretty spirited.”
Kenny Agostino is well aware of the challenge, too.
Like Van Brabant, the 22-year-old has suited up against CIS competition.
“A lot of colleges do that,” Agostino said. “From everything I’ve got from playing against these teams, they’re usually older guys, physical and they play hard. Whenever these schools get a chance to play opponents outside their norm, they get up for games.
"I’m expecting a hard fought game tonight and I’m sure it’s going to be physical.”
BACK TO MAC
For a third straight game, the Flames will start Charlottetown Islanders goaltender Mason McDonald between the pipes. McDonald is coming off a 15-save performance in Monday’s 6-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton.
“I liked him the second game. I thought he was solid,” Huska said. “His rebound control was good. You had a feeling that it was no big deal. He was going to make the saves he had to make. He looked a lot more comfortable in net and we talked about that before the game. We would assume that he would be that way and he was.
“Tonight, I feel like he’ll be settled in and again, for a young goalie, if he can get a few shots early that he’s able to handle rebounds, his confidence is going to grow from there and I think he’ll do a good job again tonight.”
McDonald, who went 1-1 in Penticton, isn’t expected to carry the load for a third consecutive game, though. It’s expected that the 18-year-old will trade off with Doug Carr near the midway mark of the contest with the Dinos.
Though he's been in Calgary for just 24 hours, the quick turnaround suits Carr just fine.
“I just got in yesterday and got my physicals done and just got my skate in this morning,” he said. “I’m excited to get right into a game. There’s no better way to start it off. It’ll be a good tune-up for the year. I’m excited.
“I put the work in over the summer and I’m ready to go. This is what you work for. It’ll be good.”
“I’m really excited about it. It’s about time. Summer was long. I’m excited to get back on the ice and play a real game. I don’t know what to expect. I hear the Universities are pretty good here in Canada so I expect a really hard and good game, fast game. There’s guys fighting for jobs here. You want to keep up. It’s going to be a good game.”
Tonight's game will be streamed by the University of Calgary HERE at 7 p.m. MST.