April 13, 2017

Fanning the Flames

Flames goalie Brian Elliott doing the coin toss at a 2016 Stamps game while Dougie Hamilton looks on

The Stampeders have a number of homegrown players but Rob Cote in particular has memories of the spring the Flames set the city on fire for two months.

“The other local guys on the team are probably too young,” laughs the Stamps’ elder statesman, “but I definitely remember 2004.

“Like the rest of the city, I was very much on the bandwagon and I saw the city got excited and got behind those guys and that incredible run they had. I would love nothing more than to see that again.”

The natural allegiance the Calgary-area products in the Stamps locker room felt for the Flames has only been intensified by sharing space under the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation roof.

“It’s awesome getting an opportunity to meet some of the guys on the Flames,” says Stamps receiver and Okotoks product Anthony Parker. “The one name that comes to mind is Johnny Hockey (dynamic forward Johnny Gaudreau). I had the opportunity to get to know him a little bit last year and having that personal connection is kind of cool. It gives me somebody to root for when I’m watching the games.”

“You meet a couple of the guys,” says Cote, “and you get to know them as people a little bit more, you’re definitely rooting for them. I would love to see them do well.”

Football may have dominated their lives growing up, but there’s also a place for hockey in the players’ hearts. Especially at playoff time.

“When it gets to this time of year,” says Parker, “it’s always exciting, right?

“We’re pretty excited,” agrees fullback Charlie Power, another Okotoks product. “The (grain brokerage) office I work in, we have a diehard Oilers fan, a Leafs fan and I’m pulling for the Flames, so we have a pretty good rivalry going.”

Power attended university in Saskatoon but returned home after being drafted by the Stampeders in 2013.

“Ever since I’ve been back and playing for the Stamps,” he says, “I’ve been quite a big Flames fan. I went to Game 6 against Vancouver in 2015 that had that huge comeback. It was pretty crazy. It was fun.”

His all-time favourite player growing up? That’s easy.

“Jarome Iginla was always the main guy when I was watching the Flames,” he replies.

Calgary native Andrew Buckley seconds that.

“I always liked Iginla,” says the second-year quarterback. “Just because he was always the man around the city. Everybody seemed to like him and I know he was a good guy around the community.”

As for the current edition of the Flames, while experts may not give them much of a chance in the first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks, their cheering section at McMahon Stadium believes.

“I know they haven’t won in Anaheim for a while,” concedes Power, “but I think it’s the perfect situation. Then, if they can pull out this series and prove everyone wrong, they can move the momentum forward. I think it’s a tough test but if they can get past the Ducks it might set them up for a nice, deep run.

“Sure they’ve had some challenges winning (in Anaheim),” adds Parker. “They haven’t won there since 2006 and that was a playoff game so, hey, maybe now’s the time.

“My prediction?” concludes Parker. “I’d like to see the Flames take it in six.”