CALGARY - Unheralded Josh Jooris continued his unexpected push to open the season with the Calgary Flames on Thursday.
The 24-year-old right-winger scored twice in the third period including the winner to lead the Calgary Flames to a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets in NHL pre-season action.
Most of the work on the go-ahead goal came from Johnny Gaudreau, who spun away from a Jets defenceman along the sideboards, than drew the other defenceman towards him in the slot before slipping the puck to a wide open Jooris down low, who beat Michael Hutchinson.
"That's great work by Johnny there. I don't know how he managed to get out of the corner with two guys on him," said Jooris.
The native of Burlington, Ont., has been a pleasant surprise at Flames camp. Undrafted, Jooris left Union College after three years to sign with Calgary a year ago. He spent all of last year with the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Heat.
"It's been a good ride," said Jooris. "It's kind of surreal, I don't think a lot of other people thought I'd be here. I'm kind of an underdog but it's exciting."
Jooris's second goal, which made it 4-1, came five minutes later and again it was after a sequence initiated by Gaudreau. Only this time, it was Flames 2014 fourth overall pick Sam Bennett that made the nice pass to Jooris for a one-timer from in front.
"It was nice to get on the scoresheet there. Two great plays by two great players but that's secondary for me. First and foremost is focusing on the details and the little things and being trustworthy out there for the coaches," Jooris said. "The slogan, they mean it here. 'Always earned, never given.' I just have to keep going out there and earning the ice and earning a spot on this team."
Jooris, Bennett, Michael Ferland, Sven Baertschi and Gaudreau ??? who had three assists ??? are all battling for what may end up being only one open forward job, depending on injuries.
Coach Bob Hartley credits the kids for making the final roster decisions difficult.
"It's not getting any easier. There's going to be lots of long nights thinking about it and after tonight's game, the nights are just getting longer and longer," Hartley said. "We have some good, really young players who are coming up and right now they're making statements."
Sean Monahan also scored twice for the Flames (5-3-0).
Mark Scheifele and Cliff Thorburn scored for Winnipeg (2-4-0). The Jets and Flames (5-3-0) will wrap up the pre-season on Saturday when they meet again at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.
Monahan made it 3-1 just 40 seconds after Jooris scored his first, beating Hutchinson on a wicked slapshot to the top corner.
"Obviously we want to put the puck in the net and getting closer to the season here, I think our goal is to ramp it up and right now we're driving the net hard and we're finding rebounds," Monahan said.
Monahan, who scored 22 goals last year as a rookie, will be counted on to provide even more offence this season given the off-season departure of free agent Mike Cammalleri, the only other Flame to reach the 20-goal mark in 2013-14.
"Obviously I need to step up here with some guys gone but at the end of the day, I worked hard this summer to get where I am and I'll do whatever I can to help produce and help win games here," Monahan said.
Locked in a battle with Jonas Hiller for the Flames starting job in net, Karri Ramo was tested only 18 times in a quiet night in net.
Michael Hutchinson made 21 saves for Winnipeg.
"They were a lot better than we were in the third period. Just quickness and jump on the puck. We were a little slow and casual with the puck," said Jets coach Paul Maurice. "I just thought they played harder than we did."
Notes: The Flames expect to have injured forwards Mikael Backlund (abdominal strain), Mason Raymond (lower body) and David Jones (lower body) back at practice on Friday... Calgary has 33 players still in camp (20 forwards, 10 defencemen, 3 goalies). The Jets still have 32 players in camp... Teams need to be down to a 23-man roster by 5 p.m. ET on Oct. 7.