The 2021 Canadian World Juniors silver medalist had to be helped off the ice and would not return to the game, a 4-1 victory in Calgary. The organization will update its status later this week.
“It was a hell of a block,” forward Ryan Francis said after the game. “It’s a huge character game by a guy with a great character. He has been a leader of our team. It pumped us up and gave us a bit of motivation to come out and eliminate those penalties and win the game for him. “
“It’s a big hunk for us,” said Jakob Pelletier, another first-round pick and silver medalist. “The guys responded well. We played with 11 forwards for two and a half periods. Boys can be proud of their progress, that’s for sure.
Calgary Flames prioritizing depth and adding veterans like Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis and Erik Gudbranson, there don’t seem to be many opportunities to be a part of the big club when the main training camp kicks off on Thursday. It’s this type of effort from Zary that might endear him and other young players to Flames head coach Darryl Sutter.
Pelletier himself had an eventful game on Monday, scoring once, adding an assist and making his presence felt all over the ice in all situations. Early in rookie camp, he admitted to taking a look at the big club’s depth charts. Pelletier and Zary trained together for a month before the start of the camp.
“To be honest, we kind of know who the players are,” said Pelletier.
“But we are here to play. There is a whole staff who will make decisions. Our job is just to play here. The goal is to be part of the Flames team, that’s for sure.
“For both of us, we’ve been working a lot this summer and you come to camp without worrying about the depth map,” Zary added.
“You come here with the idea of making the big club… everyone has to do their job, and everyone has to perform. Just because your name is higher than someone else on the list doesn’t mean that it can’t come here and be better than you. So I think every day you have to put your head down and go to work.
Stockton Heat head coach Mitch Love, assistant to Canada’s 2021 World Juniors silver medalist team, has a history with both players and has seen tremendous improvements.
“Even from January when I was with them in Edmonton you can see their physique, they added a lot of muscle,” he said.
“The only thing that intrigues me about the two is that they are very competitive. I think we want all of our perspectives to focus on this competitiveness. The only thing that really impressed me about them was their hockey IQ. They think the game at a high level.
So as they approach their first training camp with the Jolly Rancher, do Pelletier and Zary see themselves as Darryl Sutter players?
“I think he wants players who work hard, guys who will give 100 percent every night,” said Pelletier.
“He’s been on 47 camps now, so I think he knows what it takes to win.