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Notes and Observations as Flames Top Jets to Conclude Young Stars Classic

September 18, 2023, 9:48 PM ET [14 Comments]
Trevor Neufeld
Calgary Flames Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
It is through games like this morning’s clash between the Flames and Jets prospects that you can get a grasp on why these tournaments are held. Game three for the Flames finally started with a tempo you would expect from a group of early and potential professional hockey players trying to impress their way into the crosshairs of upper management.

The pace was finally decent, players were starting to get their hands and feet back — overall it was an enjoyable game in which the score was largely dictated by special teams. The Jets capitalized twice on the powerplay to keep up with the Flames before running out of gas in the third period.

Calgary standouts offensively included Jaden Lipinski and William Stromgren, who both finally seemed to relax a bit and got some plays going off of the faceoff. Matthew Coronato looked ready for a shot with a more talented ensemble. He kept the Jets defence on their toes with some aggressive puck control. Jarrod Gourley stood out on defence. More on that in a moment.

Let’s get into a few interesting topics about this 10:45 morning start.

A strange PK
A bit of context. Mid-first period, 2023 second round pick Etienne Morin catches a hooking call after Chaz Lucius breaks past him. In the next play, Mikael Diotte throws a regular check and the recipient, Carson Golder, happens to be falling already and hits his head on the boards.

OK. Context set. A long 5v3 penalty kill. 1:51 of time to kill.

Three interesting things about this penalty kill.

The choice of players
Ilya Nikolaev and Mark Duarte were chosen as the designated forwards to kill the 5v3. Nikolaev took the first shift and Duarte the second. The two defencemen were Jarrod Gourley and Yan Kuznetsov.

Why is this interesting? For one, both forwards are contenders for an AHL spot. Particularly the 22 year old Nikolaev, who played most of his season in the ECHL last year. Based on this deployment, it might be fair to say that these two guys will be on the Wranglers after cuts.

The approach
Nikolaev took a more traditional method, forward-at-the-top low triangle and didn’t move out of position much. It worked. Nikolaev killed 30 seconds and got off the ice at the whistle.

When Duarte started his kill, it was certainly different.

He, Kuznetsov and Gourley ran a compelling sort of pinwheel triangle. All three were swapping positions, mostly in a cycle, in order to keep the offence on its toes. A few times amid the position rotating, the three would converge into a line to block a shot that was being telegraphed. The three would try to revert to a triangle when they could, but it was chaos.

You have to wonder if we’ll see the Flames trying that style out this season. It seems like a wide umbrella formation could easily crush that method of defence, but not everything in hockey works out the way it seems on paper.

Jets 2022 second round pick Elias Salomonsson hammered a shot through traffic and past goaltender Conor Murphy with 17 seconds to go in the first penalty and eight seconds to go on the second. The style didn’t work out, but it may be because-

The coaching staff made a strange decision (a few times)
30 seconds into the penalty kill, Murphy covered the puck and got a whistle. For whatever reason, Nikolaev came off the ice and Gourley and Kuznetsov stayed on.

The two ended up being out there for a minute and 43 seconds. Maybe it was one of the coaches testing their mettle, but not changing off when you have the opportunity is a beer league mistake.

You would think that would be the last time that happens. It wasn’t. Flames defenceman Tyson Galloway took a crosschecking penalty with 1:50 remaining in the first. The recently signed Gourley was on the ice from the start of the penalty kill all the way until the period ended despite having two opportunities to change off after 30 seconds.

The cherry on top was that Gourley was back out there to start the next period. He played all two minutes of the Flames third penalty and every second of the Flames’ first three penalties.

The 24 year old NCAA product either missed curfew — or he has some major interest in gauging his ability. The University of Connecticut product ended up playing a whopping 5:36 of PK time in a game where the Jets were on the powerplay for a total of 6:55.

Speaking of matters of endurance.

The harder they fall
Some of the bigger players showed signs of late tournament fatigue. Luca Ciona, Parker Bell, Rory Kerins and Samuel Honzek all had fair quiet games. Adam Klapka was having a quiet game before he found a second wind in the late second period. That second wind brought us this impressive showing:

The big Lipinski
18 year old Jaden Lipinski had a big game offensively. He and William Stromgren combined to score the first two goals. Both started off with Lipinski winning the draw over to Stromgren. On goal one, Stromgren skated into the slot for a snap-shot goal. On the second, Stromgren got the puck back to Kuznetsov who took a shot. Lipinski picks up the rebound and it’s 2-1 Flames prospects.

The Powerplay
Speaking of strange special teams strategies. What exactly are we looking at here?

Are we seeing recently hired offensive coach Marc Savard’s powerplay playbook in action?

This formation ended up generating a pretty clean shot for Coronato at the top of the circle, but it certainly looks like a sideways umbrella.

The grouping spread out a bit more on the next play and resulted in a back-door goal for Adam Klapka. After that, the Flames stuck to a traditional umbrella on their powerplay.

Calgary finishes with a 2-1-0 record in the 2023 Penticton Young Stars Classic. Next up is the main camp starting on Wednesday. Veterans, prospects, hopefuls and, if we’re lucky, maybe a freshly announced professional tryout or two to discuss.

Trevor Neufeld

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