Flames 3, Portland Pirates 0
By Aaron McCracken
The Saint John Flames opened their Calder Cup quest on Thursday night with a dominating 3-0 win over the visiting Portland Pirates. Derrick Walser and Sergei Varlamov each tallied a goal and an assist, while Martin Brochu made 21 saves in the Flames’ net for his first postseason shutout.
Saint John opened the scoring early on the Power Play with Matt Pettinger off on a tripping call. Sergei Varlamov held the puck in at the point and slid it across to Derrick Walser who rifled it past Corey Hirsch to stake the Flames to a 1-0 lead. Miika Elomo had two terrific chances to add to the total in the 1st, but was unable to the get off a good shot. The Flames were put to the test late in the first when Chris Clark was assessed a major penalty (albeit a questionable one) for high sticking. The Flames penalty kill looked very strong and was able to escape the man disadvantage unscathed.
The tables turned on the Pirates midway through the second period when Portland took a couple of undisciplined penalties and found themselves down two men for an entire two minutes. The Flames’ 5-on-3 power play looked rusty, but Segeri Varlamov was able to single handedly skate around three Pirate defenders and backhand it by Hirsch to put the Flames up 2-0. Just over a minute later, Derrick Walser shot the puck high on a breakaway, and Steve Begin potted the rebound over a downed Corey Hirsch to make it 3-0.
The Flames played a conservative game from that point on, and were able to control the pace of the game. Martin Brochu was forced to make a couple of great saves late in the 2nd and 3rd period, but the Flames defensive coverage proved to be too much for the confused Pirates, who were unable to muster any prolonged attack.
Boxscore ("Stayzer" is actually Chris St. Croix): http://scoreboard.canoe.ca/11424/FINA-89-AHL-POR-SNB-11424-1.html
1) Walser, goal and an assist.
Murray – Varlamov – Botterill
Begin – Fata – Clark
Betts – Roche – Elomo
Doull – Dewar
Walser – St. Croix
Montador – Scoville
Mrozik – Dupont
Daniel Tkaczuk (concussion), Mike Martin (foot), and Gatean Royer (knee) were scratched. Saint John native Jeff Dewar (St. Thomas University) continued his amateur try-out, although his only shift came during the dying seconds of the game.
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Aaron McCracken is a freelance writer from New Brunswick. He covers the Saint John Flames for Calgary Puck / Fire on Ice. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org .