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Obviously, I am a big hockey fan. But I try my very best not to be an annoying hockey fan.

Which is why when I met Derek Ryan for the first time, I tried not to talk about hockey. I told myself, surely he doesn’t want to talk about the Calgary Flames all the time. Surely it’s annoying when people only see the hockey player and are not interested in talking about anything else.

Despite the fact that I have been writing about the Flames for a while now, I waited more than a full year before asking him to do an interview. My wife was a bit more courageous, asking him to sign my jersey as a birthday surprise to me not long after he moved here. Which he did. That’s how I came to own a Robyn Regehr jersey with a Ryan signature.

When I finally did ask for an interview, he was very gracious about it. He made time to talk at his house on one of his off nights during that long five-day break in the schedule. His corgi, Bronx, sat under my chair while we chatted.

Ryan says Bronx got his name because of his stout figure and feisty personality, just like the New York City borough. Plus, his fur pattern makes him look like he’s wearing hipster glasses.

I was surprised at how easy Ryan was to talk to. Obviously he’s used to doing interviews just like all players are, so I knew it would be easy for him. But I didn’t know it would be this easy for me. He is approachable and laid back. I can attest that he’s one of the good guys.

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Despite everything else going in Calgary over the last 7 days, David Rittich wasn’t fazed as he took home the NHL’s 2nd Star of the Week honours.

Rittich went 2-0-1, allowing only six goals on 101 shots and helped the Flames pick up 5 out of 6 points against Eastern teams. Rittich had a particularly strong performance against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, making 34 saves including a number of highlight-reel ones.

Rittich continues to lead the league in starts with 23 and is carrying a 12-7-4 record on the year. This is David Rittich’s first appearance of his career on the NHL’s weekly star ranking. Flames fans are aware that it is very well deserved, and the rest of the league may be starting to realize just how good he has been all year long for Calgary.

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DALLAS — Five hundred games in the professional-hockey biz.

Calgary Flames sparkplug Zac Rinaldo might be the only person who believed that milestone was within reach.

“Tonight? No sh–?” Rinaldo replied when informed he would hit that nice round number in Sunday’s road date against the Dallas Stars — a combination of 357 appearances in the NHL and 143 more in the minors. “See, I don’t even look at that stuff. But that’s a really, really nice accomplishment. I wasn’t even supposed to get one game, never mind 500. So 500 pro games, it’s an honour to be a part of.

“I’m not supposed to be here right now,” he added. “Not many players like myself who were drafted in the sixth round for their toughness stick around this long, especially in this day and age where the game is changing every day and every year.

“So I’ve had a lot of doubters throughout my whole career and a lot of people that didn’t believe in me. This game is for them, I guess.”

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Calgary Flames fans went home happy Thursday night, following a 4-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres.

But a Flames fan by the name of Cindy drove home just a bit happier.

See also:
Fans react to Lucic finally scoring his first goal with the Flames

Tobias Rieder’s second-period goal was scored during the Flames’ “Minute to Win It” promotion, winning a 2019 Chevrolet Malibu for Cindy.

Cindy’s window to win occurred for 60 seconds after a TV timeout in the second period. As if that wasn’t improbable enough, the entirety of her minute window would occur shorthanded, thanks to a Johnny Gaudreau hooking penalty.

No matter for Rieder, who scored on a shorthanded breakaway.

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Millville High School’s Chapter #6925 of the National Tri-M Music Honor Society inducted new members and held a recital for its returning members on Dec. 4. The Fine and Performing Arts Department is proud to have such amazing young musicians represent them with this honor.

New inducted members are: Daniel Laird, Aurora Ryan, Emily Abdill, Gabby Akiatan, Alison Dingle, Natalie Harrison, Cassidy Miller, Matthew Phillips, Carter Crockett, Jared DeShields, and William Shea.

Returning members are: Justin Billman; Taylor Hastings, secretary; Lexi Kukal; Rebecca Rehmann, historian; Brooke Jablonski, vice president; Maia Morales, president; Bobby Williams; Zach Nolter; Andrew Hickman; and Rosalynn Rodriguez.

Henry Hartman, Joseph Sino, Donna Terry, Matthew Adams and Robert DeSantis are the faculty advisors for Tri-M.

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Sean Monahan collected a goal and an assist while Milan Lucic netted his first goal of the season as the host Calgary Flames scored four straight goals to net a comeback 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.

Goaltender David Rittich made 26 saves for the Flames, who have won three straight games and are on a 4-0-1 run since a six-game losing streak.

With the Flames trailing 1-0, Johnny Gaudreau’s power-play goal with 3:18 remaining in the opening frame tied the game. Shortly after the Sabres wasted a five-on-three power play, Gaudreau worked to the left faceoff dot and ripped a top-corner shot for his first goal in 11 games.

Tobias Rieder made his 400th NHL game more memorable when he tallied a short-handed goal to give the Flames a 2-1 edge just past the midway point of the second period. Derek Ryan forced a turnover at the Calgary blue line that sprung Rieder on a breakaway, which he finished by slipping the puck between Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark’s legs for his second goal of the season at 11:18 of the middle frame.

Monahan made it a 3-1 game with five minutes left in the second period. After leading the rush up ice, Monahan worked a give-and-go with Mikael Backlund and ended it with a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle.

Lucic then snapped a 27-game drought to make it a 4-1 affair. Lucic finished a three-way passing play that included Ryan and Dillon Dube to record the eventual game winner at 3:58 of the third.

To their credit, the Sabres pushed to the final buzzer. After Jake McCabe made it a 4-2 game with less than three minutes remaining, Jack Eichel scored on the power play with 47.4 seconds left on the clock. Eichel’s goal extended his point-scoring streak to 11 games, during which he’s collected 10 goals and 10 assists.

Sam Reinhart opened the scoring with Buffalo’s first shot on goal. Reinhart was in the slot when he redirected Rasmus Ristolainen’s point shot at the 3:29 mark for his 10th goal of the season.

Ullmark made 25 saves.

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Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and two assists as the Calgary Flames scored three power-play goals and a short-hander in defeating the host Dallas Stars 5-1 on Sunday.

Sean Monahan had a goal and an assist and Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund and Derek Ryan also scored for Calgary, which snapped a three-game winless streak and improved to 8-2-1 under interim coach Geoff Ward. Elias Lindholm added three assists and goaltender David Rittich made 26 saves while also being credited with his first assist of the season.

Denis Gurianov scored for Dallas and goalie Ben Bishop stopped 25 of 29 shots. The Stars are to 14-5-3 in their past 22 games against the Flames.

Calgary opened the scoring at 12:11 of the first period. Tkachuk and Lindholm sent the puck back and forth behind the Dallas net before Lindholm found Mangiapane open in the slot and his one-timer beat Bishop.

The Stars responded quickly, with Gurianov tying the score 38 seconds later by taking a pass from Justin Dowling and beating a defender down the boards on the right before cutting in front of the net and scoring past Rittich.

Monahan and Tkachuk scored power-play goals 1:53 apart in the second period as Calgary broke the 1-1 tie.

Tkachuk’s wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle at 12:28 of the period, off a pass from Lindholm, made it 2-1.

Monahan scored at 14:21, taking a pass from Tkachuk in the low slot and beating Bishop.

The goals came after hooking penalties against Dallas’ Corey Perry and Jamie Benn.

Backlund scored on a power-play goal at 10:21 of the third, finding his own rebound sitting in the crease and poking the puck into the net.

Ryan capped the scoring with a short-handed, empty-net goal at 17:56.

Dallas’ Tyler Seguin had his five-game point streak (four goals, three assists) snapped.

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Milan Lucic says he’s more interested in the main event points race in the first Edmonton-Calgary meeting which comes halfway through the season, than the individual undercard: the goal battle with James Neal

But, they’re both good stories.

“I’m excited to be coming back to Edmonton but more so I’m looking at what the game means in the standings,” said Lucic, who spent three years in Edmonton and was traded this past summer to the Flames for Neal, two players spinning their wheels. “It’s a rivalry game but it’s also a competitive game.”

Arizona and Vegas are tied for top in the Pacific with 46 points. Calgary and Edmonton have 44. Vancouver has 42. It’s the 41st game for the Oilers on Friday night, the 40th for the Flames.

“As you know when I was in Boston and played Montreal, those games were also very competitive games and we played each other four times and that ramped up the rivalry,” said Lucic.

“This division is tight … if you lose two games, you’re almost out of a playoff spot, and if you win two or three, you’re back in the mix. Vegas, Arizona, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, all five of us are battling for maybe four (playoff spots).”

Lucic says having Calgary and Edmonton playing first at the halfway point is strange stuff. The Oilers are finished with Vancouver, playing four times, but haven’t seen their main rival.

“It is kind of odd but when I played in LA we didn’t play Anaheim for the first time until January,” said Lucic. “With the Oilers I think we play four times in the next six weeks, though. We’re going to get to know each other well.”

The dichotomy between Lucic and Neal is hard to ignore. Neal has 16 goals, in the first month he was the NHL’s hottest player. Lucic has three goals in 50 shots and eight points this year, but nobody’s complaining because he’s keeping the flies away from Johnny Gaudreau. He skates hard, provides fuel to the fire and he’s a fan favourite in Calgary.

If Neal scores at least 21 goals and the difference between the two at least 10 goals, the Oilers give Calgary a third-round draft pick. But that’s for the rival GM’s to consider.

“I’ve maybe only watched five Oiler games this year, but you always pay attention to the guy you’re traded for. I won’t lie to you there,” said Lucic. “At the start it was like ‘Holy Smokes, he’s really doing well and nothing much is going for me’ but I’ve moved on from that.

“I’m not the type of guy who wishes bad on others. If the other guy is playing well and you’re not, you create negative energy and you drive yourself crazy. You turn it into a pity party for yourself. It’s not a healthy way to live. I’ve never been like that. If somebody’s doing well whether you like or hate the guy or got traded for him, I believe in the ‘he’s doing well, good for him.’ Just go about your own business.”

Lucic seems to have found a regular line with Derek Ryan and Dillon Dube. They’ve been together for 10 to 12 games.

“If you look at goals and assists you can say it’s not going well, but I’m playing better, more to the way I can play, in the O-zone, creating scoring chances, providing energy. The way the last 15 games have gone, I could easily be at the 10-goal mark but it hasn’t gone in for me,” he said.

Lucic had 23 goals in 175 shots (13.1 shooting percentage) his first Oilers season after they signed him as a free-agent in 2016, but couldn’t find the net the next two with 10 and six goals when his shooting percentage was 6.8 and 8.1.

Even with his troubles, the fans refused to get on him.

“The Edmonton fans were good to me from start to finish and I appreciated that. Even when times were tough they never turned on me, they never booed me, which I was appreciative of,” he said.

Lucic hasn’t had a lot of angry games in the Battle of Alberta. There was the Lucic scuffle around the crease with then Flames goalie Mike Smith in Calgary.

“The first time we played them last season they (Flames) were going after Connor (McDavid) and I had a big hit on Gio (Flames captain Mark Giordano), too. That was a pretty ramped up game,” said Lucic. “That’s why I’m excited about this one (Tuesday). We know what this game means in the standings.”

It will be strange for Lucic to be going against McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

“The first time I did it was my year in LA and it was Connor’s first season and Leon’s second. Seeing how good they were was a big reason why I decided to come to Edmonton. I saw how good Connor was as an 18-year-old,” he said. “I’m very interested to see how good they’ve gotten because when you play with guys you appreciate how good they are but when you play against them you see how hard it it.”

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BBUFFALO, N.Y. — Flames captain Mark Giordano was thoroughly impressed with how Calgary rallied rather than unraveled.

Following two-plus days of facing questions regarding the uncertain status of coach Bill Peters, the Flames showed no signs of being distracted with Elias Lindholm scoring on a wraparound 1:17 into overtime of a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.

“It’s a four-game trip that’s had a lot of adversity,” Giordano said. “I think guys, what we did as players, we said to one another this is almost a way to get away from everything off the ice right now by playing games, practicing. And I thought we did a good job of that.”

Peters has been accused of using racist slurs against Nigerian-born player Akim Aliu 10 years ago while the two were in the minors. And Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour earlier Wednesday backed another former player’s allegation that Peters kicked and punched players on the bench during his previous four years coaching Carolina.

Following the game, Flames general manager Brad Treliving confirmed he received a letter of apology from Peters, in which the coach acknowledged using offensive language in dealing with Aliu. The letter was initially obtained and posted on Twitter during the third period by TSN, a Canadian sports cable network.

Without specifically referencing the words he used, Peters said his comments to Aliu were the source of both anger and disappointment. He added, the incident was made in a “moment of frustration and does not reflect my personal values.”

Peters says he regretted the incident and apologizes to anyone negatively affected by it.

The letter was released while Peters is away from the team while the Flames and the NHL conduct an investigation into the matter.

Matthew Tkachuk scored 4:02 into the third period to force overtime by tying the game at 2 a little over two minutes after Victor Olofsson scored for Buffalo.

Tkachuk then set up Lindholm’s overtime goal as Calgary improved to 2-0-1 in its past three and closed a four-game road trip that began with a 5-0 loss at St. Louis.

“It’s huge. Obviously, a lot of things going on right now. We can only affect what’s going on out on the ice,” Lindholm said. “We got the two points at the end, and that’s all that matters.”

TJ Brodie also had a goal and assist, and David Rittich stopped 34 shots with associate coach Geoff Ward behind the bench.

Jimmy Vesey also scored for the Sabres who dropped to 2-8-3 in their past 13 — and after getting off to a 9-2-1 start to the season. Linus Ullmark made 26 saves.

“It’s definitely frustrating, the final result,” first-year Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said.

“We definitely had the chances to put it away after 2-1, and the inability to do that and then have a D-zone breakdown to allow them back into the game is really, really disappointing,” Krueger added. “It’s a painful situation that we have to manage and use in the right way.”

The game was decided when Tkachuk beat a Sabres defender to the puck deep in Buffalo’s zone and slid a pass behind the net to Lindholm.

Lindholm came out untouched at the right post and circled atop the crease before scoring inside the opposite post.

Brodie’s goal with 2:55 left in the opening period came in his second game two weeks after experiencing a frightening moment in practice when he began convulsing after falling to the ice. A series of neurological tests came back negative and the 29-year-old play-making defenceman was cleared to return in a 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Monday.

Despite the win, the Flames continued their offensive struggles in scoring two or fewer goals in regulation for the ninth consecutive game. It’s a stretch in which Calgary has been out-scored 30-12 and shut out three times.

NOTES: Sabres D Rasmus Dahlin is out indefinitely after sustaining a concussion in being elbowed in the face by Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak in 5-2 loss Monday. … Calgary played its 17th road game, tying Minnesota for the most so far this season. … Sabres forward Marcus Johansson returned after missing seven games with an upper body injury.

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-We’ve Got A First: It took 27 games on the season, but Oliver Kylington scored his first goal on the season, which gave the Flames a 3-2 lead in the third period.

-Still Close: Despite losing three straight the Flames are still within striking distance of the Pacific Divison’s top spot. Getting a point out of last night’s 4-3 loss was key as the Flames are still only three points out of first place.

-No So Friendly Confines: The Flames have now lost 5 of the last 6 times the Canadiens have paid them a visit.