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PREVIEW - FLAMES @ OILERS

All-rookie Battle of Alberta goes tonight in Red Deer

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

You can watch tonight's game LIVE right right here on CalgaryFlames.com, Twitter, Facebook or at the YouTube link below.

Game day, at last!

It's an all-rookie edition of the Battle of Alberta tonight as the Flames head north to Red Deer to face the Edmonton Oilers in the first of a two-game set.

"It doesn't matter if it's exhibition, regular season or playoffs - this rivalry is never NOT important," said Stockton Heat head coach Cail MacLean, who will be running the bench this evening and throughout Prospect Camp.

"The guys understand that.

"It's Calgary versus Edmonton, and that's huge. Guys naturally have some extra motivation for something like this, and it showed on the ice (Friday).

"The Calgary Flames are about compete, and they're about pace.

"That's what we expect from our team tonight."

Calgary's 25 prospects took to the ice for the first time on Friday, putting in more than 90 minutes of work in preparation for Saturday's tilt.

Dillon Dube, 2019 first-round pick Jakob Pelletier, Calgary native Matthew Phillips, along with CHL stars Adam Ruzicka, Milos Roman and Dmitry Zavgorodniy headline a Flames team looking to repeat what was a dominant showing last year.

The Oilers, meanwhile, counter with 2016 second-round pick Tyler Benson, along with first-round forwards Raphael Lavoie and Kailer Yamamoto, and 6-foot-3, 193-lb. defenceman Evan Bouchard.

In the 2018 sweep, Calgary's gunslingers ran roughshod with 7-3 and 6-3 victories over Edmonton's young guns, with Dube, Zavgorodniy and Andrew Mangiapane pacing the Flames offensively.

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. MT and all the action will be streamed LIVE on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and right here on CalgaryFlames.com

 

Video: Brendan Parker sets up tonight's game from Red Deer

 

HERE ARE THREE THINGS TO WATCH:

WILDCAT CONNECTION

All eyes will be on Jakob Pelletier when the Flames take to the ice in Red Deer, but he isn't the only Quebec star sure to make waves up front.

Pelletier's linemate, 20-year-old Jeremy McKenna, was bypassed in the past two drafts, despite posting 77- and 97-point seasons, including a team-leading 45-goal effort this past year with Moncton.

But after accepting an invite to the Flames' Development Camp back in July, McKenna signed an AHL contract with the Heat just days later.

 

Video: "A dream come true to get an opportunity."

 

Look for McKenna on the right flank with Mason Morelli and Milos Roman, and don't be surprised if he joins Pelletier on one of the powerplay units.

HEALTHY AND HUNGRY

It was a long and, at times, arduous off-season for former University of Alberta star Luke Philp.

But after suffering an injury and being forced to watch his Canada West powerhouse lose in the U Sports Championship Final last March, he's ready for game action once again.

"I spent the off-season training at the Edge just west of Calgary with the Flames," Philp said. "I had a really good summer there - off-ice workouts and practices pretty much every day. We had a group working together there since about May, and it was awesome working them, growing my game, after I recovered from the injury."

 

 

The Canmore native was named the U Sports Player of the Year after putting up a career-high 21 goals and 45 points in 24 regular-season games with the Golden Bears.

The wonderfully talented, right-shot centre signed a two-year, entry level pact with the Flames on March 17 - just days after the injury and subsequent loss to the University of New Brunswick in the title-clinching contest.

Eight weeks of recovery followed, but after getting his first taste of the Flames organization with July's Rookie Development Camp, he's back at 100%, humming at full song at just the right time.

"The intensity ramps up, as you can see with the practice (Friday)," Philp said. "Everyone's elevating their game, working that much harder to make an impression.

"I know I am."

Philp centred a line with Martin Pospisil and Dmitry Zavgorodniy at Friday's practice.

HOLY HANNAH, MONTANA!

If you don't know the name, you soon will.

Few players had the kind of impact that 6-foot-3, 200-lb. defenceman Montana Onyebuchi had in the curtain-closer at July's Development Camp.

The 19-year-old is attending Prospect Camp as one of five invites, thanks to a stellar showing in the summer showcase.

Onyebuchi, who skates with the WHL's Kamloops Blazers, was passed over in the draft the past two years and is still without a contract entering his overage year in the junior ranks.

But after receiving an invite to Tampa's camp for the second straight year, along with another to the Flames' rival in Vegas, Calgary seemed like the most appealing option.

Now, he's hoping to extend the stay indefinitely.

 

 

"This is probably one of the biggest games that some young guys like me have ever been a part of," Onyebuchi said. "This is huge. It means everything.

"I want to show what I've got and try to prove myself.

"After the camp in July, I went home and worked out twice a day, every day, and gained about six pounds of muscle.

"I want this.

"And I'm determined to work for it."

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