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Gaudreau ties career high mark in goals with stellar blast against Isles

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

A la Rory McElroy trailing by a stroke on 18 tee, a wide-open fairway vista staring down at him and that TaylorMade M5 driver clutched in his eager mitts. 

Or Milos Raonic cranking a serve straight down the heart of the lush grass at Wimbledon, a hair's breadth inside the centre line, to take the game, set and match. 

Or a Nolan Ryan chin-music fastball.

Some serious, pitiless heat.

"Yeah," agreed Travis Hamonic, flashing a gap-toothed grin, "he really wired that."

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Matthew and Brady Tkachuk set to go head-to-head when Flames face Senators on Sunday

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

The squaring-off squabbling stretches back a ways.

"What are they, 20 months apart?" dad Keith Tkachuk is saying. "Being older, Matthew was always bigger and stronger when they were growing up. So he'd push Brady around.

"Now Brady's 6-4.

"So I don't think Matthew'll be doing that anymore.

They're brothers, right? Older-younger. So it's a pattern. Matthew would start pushing Brady's buttons and he'd snap. Whether they were out on the roadway or downstairs playing shinny, there was always something going on, somebody getting hurt.

"They're best friends but they're also ultra-competitive.

"And they're brothers.

"Brothers do that."

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Giordano sets career high for points in season in win over Coyotes

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

As someone who's forgotten more about defence than most will ever know, Al MacNeil is uniquely qualified to discuss the art of the position.

"The best ones," the former Flames coach nicknamed Chopper once explained, "play as if they're in a rocking chair.

"By that, I mean the game seems to come to them."

That being so, Mark Giordano could certainly pass for a guy blissfully swaying back and forth on a covered porch on a lazy, sun-drenched summer afternoon, hat tipped over his eyes, crickets chirping all around him.

In other words, in full rock.

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A rundown on what was discussed at Sunday morning's skate

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /


"If it was a night game I probably wouldn't have practiced (Sunday) but it is a 2 o'clock game and I wanted to make sure the goalies got some shots and get the motor running a little bit."


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Bennett rounding into form as guy who can do everything for the Flames

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Sam he is.

Or is becoming.

More and more.

"What's different?" repeats Flames GM Brad Treliving to the question put to him. "Identify a greatest growth area in Sam Bennett?

"Well, I'd say in just being himself. In being more comfortable in his own skin.

"In realizing he can be a major player here, can have a real impact and that that impact is not solely statistically based.

"We expect him to produce offensively and he will, he does. But he gives us a certain different skill set that not a lot of guys possess. 

"There's an abrasiveness, a competitiveness, a hardness, to him that you can't just walk down to the corner store and find any day of the week."

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Oliver Kylington shares the harrowing tale of how his mother, Teber, fled her home in war-torn Eritrea, and how her story has turned him into the man he is today

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Situated in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Sudan, Ethiop, Djibouti and along on its eastern coastline by the Red Sea, Eritrea is a multi-ethnic country of 10 national languages spoken among its six million inhabitants.

It is a land of diversity, lush topography, abundant wildlife.

Also, sadly, of historical conflict and suppression. The red in its flag represents the blood shed in the fight for freedom and independence.

A fierce border war that would go on to claim tens of thousands of lives was at its height when, well over two decades ago, Teber Zeru made the decision to flee the land of her birth and the military presence of invading Ethiopian forces.

On the way to a waiting car that would be the first step in smuggling her, a sister and friend to Stockholm, Sweden, and sanctuary with a brother who lived and studied there, between the house and the car door, a bullet bit deeply into her arm.

Teber was all of 19 years old.

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Flames will have their hands full during road swing, battling to keep their perch atop the Pacific Division

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

This odyssey isn't quite as epic as, say, Homer's.

Still, four cities over nine days, opening on the Canadian west coast, in Vancouver, and serpentining all the way east in the U.S., to Tampa Bay, Miami, Pittsburgh, and back represents a bit of a hike at 4,170 kilometres.

Even via charter aircraft.

"We have a good break of days to get to the east coast,"noted skipper Mark Giordano. "I'm sure it'll be nice and warm in Florida, so the body will feel good.

"And with our trade and the hotels we stay in, honestly, it's top notch. We're pretty spoiled.

"We get (to Tampa) on the Sunday and don't play until Tuesday. So to get those days are huge.

"Staying hydrated, nutrition, sleep … all those things come into play."

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Flames frustrated with their inability to finish in loss to Sharks

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Melees. Ruckuses. Scrambles.

Valiant shot blocks by sliding D-men. 

Last-ditch denials.

Skipping pucks. Rolling pucks. Hide-and-seek pucks.

"We've gotta bear down and put some of those in," said left-winger Matthew Tkachuk in the wake of a 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks Thursday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"You can say you're getting chances, all that, everything's great … but we've got to put some of those in."

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Hamonic takes latest injury in stride, saying when you play the game like he does you're bound to get some bumps and bruises

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

The man affected doesn't believe there's a malevolent gremlin off somewhere gleefully jabbing pins into a Travis Hamonic voodoo doll.

He disputes the theory of hex bags hidden surreptitiously in his stall. Rules out dark-arts curses or heathen's spells.

Doesn't feel jinxed. Can't, even squinting skyward, spot any dark clouds overhead, dogging his every on-ice stride.

"Means you're playing hard,'' reckons Hamonic, hoping for another return to the Flames lineup when the San Jose Sharks pay an important intra-divisional call Thursday evening (click here for tickets).

"If you don't go through a season when you're not getting banged up or stitched up … well, that's when I quit playing hockey. That means I'm not doing my job to the best of the ability.

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A rundown from the locker-room after today's skate

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /


"If everything goes good with treatment, he might join us tomorrow for practice. We'll see how it responds (Wednesday) to a little bit of a light skate today."


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