Calgary Flames

Young Stars Classic Recap: Calgary Flames beat Winnipeg Jets to round off tournament in Penticton

The Calgary Flames’ young stars picked up a big win over the Winnipeg Jets, outlasting them and taking the game by a 4-2 mark. The team closed out the Penticton Young Stars Classic, going 2-1-0 in their three games. Here’s what happened.


The Flames started this game very slowly, with the Jets firing everything at the Flames’ net. However, they were unable to beat Flames goalie Connor Murphy, or more importantly, the iron.

Later in the period, Jaden Lipinski cleanly won a faceoff to William Stromgren, who took a couple of strides to the middle and sniped it high into the Winnipeg net. Stromgren’s goal gave the Flames a one goal lead.

Winnipeg answered back shortly after. On what felt like the umpteenth powerplay for the Jets, defenceman Elias Salomonsson fired the puck from the blueline and beat Murphy in the top corner. That’s how the first period would end.

The Flames pushed hard in the second, trying to take the lead back. After winning another faceoff, Lipinski cleaned up a rebound in front of the net to restore the Flames’ lead. He was incredibly effective all game long.

The Jets answered back just moments later. The Flames got caught up in battles behind the net and did not react in time as Nikita Chibrikov picked up the puck and danced to the front of the net to beat Murphy up high, tying the game again at two.

The Flames made a goalie change midway through the second, putting Kelowna Rockets’ netminder Jari Kykkanen in net for the remainder of the game. In this tournament, it’s more important to ensure all the players get as many reps as possible, and swapping goalies midway through the game regardless of the score is common practice.

With just over eight minutes left in the second period, Adam Klapka finished off a beautiful passing play on a five-on-three to give the Flames the lead yet again. This is how the second period ended.

The third was a pretty sloppy period by both teams, with exhaustion clearly playing a factor for both teams. Stromgren popped one into the empty net from centre ice to get the Flames the insurance marker, and the team went on to win by a 4-2 score.

Why did the Flames win this game?

I would say that this was a game that the Flames probably didn’t deserve to win. For good stretches, the Jets were the far better team, putting chance after chance on net. Their top prospects looked better than the Flames’ top prospects, and were it not for Murphy and the iron, the Jets could have made this one a very ugly game for the Flames.

The difference was that the Flames capitalized on their chances when they got them, and kept it close in the third when it seemed like everyone was ready to head back home. They outlasted the Jets and were able to hold it down when the Jets pressed. Not every win is pretty, but at the end of the day, what matters is the score at the end of the game.

Standout players

This was very much the Adam Klapka show! The Czech winger was all over the ice in this one, showing off not only how well he uses his size at both ends of the ice, but also his hands and shot. He scored a goal again in this game, but it was his full body of work which was most impressive.

Hats off as well to the Flames’ second line of Lipinski between Stromgren and Samuel Honzek. Together, the three were able to create chances all over the ice. Lipinski was probably the Flames’ best centreman this tournament, not only with his ability to win draws but also his really strong two-way play. Stromgren also added a ton of value, showcasing his size and his shot. He’s not a flashy player by any stretch, but he seemed well-rounded in his ability all game long. Honzek also looked good, but his skating was the one thing that stood out negatively in this one. That is an area of improvement for sure.

On the flip side, Rory Kerins had a very mixed bag game. He made a few remarkable plays, including setting up Klapka’s game-winning goal and taking a number of really good chances, but his decision-making was all over the place. He had a brutal shift in the first period which led to not one but two odd-man rushes against, including a breakaway. He also had multiple other gaffes all game long that could have been much worse had the Flames’ two goalies and the posts not bailed him out. For a guy who has so much to prove this season, this was not the way to be remembered.

Finally, it is worth noting how forgettable the Flames’ camp invitees and Wranglers’ signees were this game. There was really nothing of value that they added in this one. Between errant passes, awful defensive plays, bad hits, and more, there was really nothing good that stood out from any of the undrafted skaters. The unsigned invitees are whatever- they likely won’t be signed after this weekend anyway- but the Wranglers’ signees leave a lot to be desired. The team’s coaching staff will have their work cutout for themselves this season. The exception was goaltender Connor Murphy, who looked good in this one.

What’s next?

That’s all for this year’s Penticton Young Stars Classic. The team will head back to Calgary from here, with main camp opening on Wednesday with physicals. The Flames will then hit the ice, and will take on the Vancouver Canucks in their first pre-season tilt Sunday night. Expect cuts to happen quickly to many of the invitees and younger players, with the Flames starting off the season October 11th against the Winnipeg Jets. Hockey’s back!

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