A little baptism of fire for Jakob Pelletier

A little baptism of fire for Jakob Pelletier

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Mission accomplished for Jakob Pelletier, who finally played his first game with the Flames on Saturday in Calgary. However, he only had 6:50 of play in a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The small Quebec forward was chomping at the bit before receiving the call from the big club, almost four years after being selected in the first round. And he again had to take his troubles patiently before playing a first meeting, two weeks after his recall.

The native of Quebec, author of 96 points in 97 duels in the American Hockey League ( LAH), was used sparingly by the ruthless Darryl Sutter against the Lightning. Sharing the fourth unit with plumbers Trevor Lewis and Walker Duehr, Pelletier was the Flames' least-used player. He still got a shot on goal and a bodycheck, in addition to causing a turnover.

“It’s unreal, dropped the main interested party to journalists after the meeting. During the warm-up and my first appearance on the ice, I was stressed. But after that, I understood that it was simply hockey.

The moment was all the more significant for Pelletier, since it took place in front of six members of his family at Scotiabank Saddledome, including his father Mario.

“It was magical, rejoiced the father in a telephone interview with the QMI Agency. There are no other words to describe it. Jakob had the match he had been waiting for a year. He proved that he was capable of holding his own.”

As usual, Sutter was sparing with compliments after the duel. Asked about the performance of the only rookie on his roster, the 64-year-old was content to ask what number Pelletier wore, before simply letting go that he “was 21 and has a long way to go”. p>

These words should not discourage the former Moncton Wildcats and Val-d'Or Foreurs, according to Mario Pelletier.

< p>“Jakob is very mentally strong and humble. And everyone saw the game: Jakob didn't look bad. He had good chances and created some too. Now he will never be 6'2″ and he will never weigh 220 lbs. If Sutter likes that kind of player, it won't be Jakob. There are still 31 other teams in the NHL who would like to have players like him.”

Against all odds

Before Pelletier, 57 others players made their Bettman Tour debuts in 2022-23. His first game, however, has a very special connotation, since there is no team where it is more difficult to make your place in the NHL than the Calgary Flames.

It's no secret that head coach Sutter is not fond of youth… or athletes with a small frame.

Pelletier thus became the first player born in the 2000s to play a game… in the history of the Alberta team! For comparison, the Montreal Canadiens had seven this season alone.

At 5-foot-9, Pelletier was also the only player under 5-foot-10 in uniform Saturday. Earlier this season, the talented Matthew Phillips (5'7″) had only two small games with the Flames before being demoted to the AHL, where he outrageously dominates the league with 44 points in 31 games .

The veterans rise

It must be said that the Calgary team, in the midst of a fight for a place in the playoffs, had every reason to trust his veterans in the duel of the day, a replay of the 2004 Stanley Cup final.

The experienced players answered present against the “Bolts”, who held a lead of 2 to 1 in the middle of the second period. Tyler Toffoli, Rasmus Andersson and Dillon Dube hit the target to provide a two-goal cushion for the Flames, then Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman confirmed the victory in an empty net.

Nazem Kadri, another veteran on offense, opened the scoring in the first period.

Steven Stamkos, Vladislav Namestnikov and Anthony Cirelli replied for the visitors.