With the chippiness going on today, I think a lot of guys are on the edge and a lot of guys like to play on the edge. It’s kind of hard when you’re playing your teammates. It’s going to be good to let it all hang out against Edmonton. - Kenny Agostino
CALGARY, AB -- It didn’t take long for the intensity level to ramp up in Calgary Flames training camp.
After a second day of on-ice activities -- including a pair of rough scrimmages -- physicality has been ramped up as the team nears its first round of exhibition bouts against the Edmonton Oilers.
“I think today, especially more than yesterday, was more of a game-like atmosphere,” said Kenny Agostino, who scored three goals over the span of the two scrimmages on Saturday. “That’s expected. Everyone yesterday was settling in and feeling each other out. Now it’s business. Guys are trying to make a team and stay alive here.
“With the chippiness going on today, I think a lot of guys are on the edge and a lot of guys like to play on the edge. It’s kind of hard when you’re playing your teammates. It’s going to be good to let it all hang out against Edmonton.”
The Flames are scheduled to take on the Oilers in split-squad action on Sunday.
While Calgary will host the Oilers at Scotiabank Saddledome, the Flames will also travel to Rexall Place to take on Edmonton in simultaneous 6 p.m. MST puck drops.
The timing couldn’t be better, according to Lance Bouma.
“This is where the fun starts, when you start playing against another team and another team you don’t really like, a team you have a good rivalry with,” he said. “It’ll be fun. It’ll be chippy. Guys are fighting for jobs so it’s going to be intense.”
Nolan Yonkman is one of those players looking for a job.
Coming into Calgary’s camp as a free agent invitee, the hulking defenceman knows he needs to leave an impression. But he also knows he has to make sure he doesn’t cross a line in doing so.
“I’m just looking to finish every hit,” Yonkman said. “I think a lot of guys are, but at the same time, we’re all Flames here. We’re competing for jobs here, but we don’t want injuries. There’s a fine line there. Finishing hits, make sure it’s clean, and play hard like men. That’s what we’re trying to do here.”
YONKMAN FEELING FIT IN CALGARY
At 6-foot-6, 253-pounds, Yonkman is a tough guy to miss. Missing Flames training camp wasn’t an option, either, for the 33-year-old. Even if he did cut his arrival a little close.
“I learned on the 17th,” said Yonkman, who has 76 games of NHL experience to his credit. “I flew in here on the morning of the 17th. I made the decision at 10:30 that morning. We had some interest from some other teams.
“We felt Calgary would be the best fit.”
With ties to Flames general manager Brad Treliving dating back to his time as part of the Phoenix Coyotes organization, Yonkman is a known commodity to Calgary. So by no means was Yonkman a last-second invite.
“We had a call from them July 1st,” he said. “It just took this time to kind of get it done. It felt like this was the best fit.”
Calgary was a good fit. Turns out Mark Giordano is, too, according to Thursday’s physical testing.
Giordano took the honour as ‘fittest Flame’ among veterans, while Garnet Hathaway earned the distinction of top prospect coming out of the Young Stars Classic in Penticton.
Giordano’s title came as no surprise to coach Bob Hartley.
“When we talk about leadership, you get a classic example of this,” Hartley said. “Gio had a great season last year and didn’t sit on it. He had a great summer and I’m sure that Gio will have a great season for us.”
It came as a surprise to Hathaway, though, who learned of his achievement from media.
“I had no idea,” the 22-year-old said. “I worked hard. That’s great news. I’m pumped. You have to be at the head of the prospects to be with the big guys. That’s the first step for me. I worked really hard this summer. I came off a broken foot from Abbotsford. I didn’t know the results, so man, that’s awesome.
“I’ve always worked hard like that. I take pride in my work ethic, not just on the ice but off the ice too. I’m really happy about that. You’ve got to turn heads. To get to the next level, you have to work hard, harder than the guy next to you.”
The Flames are set for a pair of split-squad games with Edmonton. Calgary will host the Oilers on Sportsnet 960 The Fan while the Flames will visit Edmonton on 630 CHED. Puck drop for both games is set for 6 p.m. MST.