American Hockey League

Stockton’s Dube blending in seamlessly with Flames

Deep in all of the storylines about the Calgary Flames over the last few weeks, you’ll find Dillon Dube.

He’s flown under the radar ever since the 21-year-old forward was recalled from the American Hockey League three weeks ago after Sam Bennett was injured and the team was in need of an extra body up front (at the right cap hit).

Given the team’s struggles, the Bill Peters’ controversy and subsequent appointment of Geoff Ward as the interim head coach, and emergence out of it all, it’s taken the focus off Dube and allowed him to settle into a role among the team’s bottom-six (ish) forwards.

Perhaps on a slow news day (week, or month), the dissection of the second-year pro would have come early — and often.

But, to his credit, Dube has done his part and blended in seamlessly during this nine-game stretch at hockey’s highest level after starting the season with the Flames’ affiliate Stockton Heat.

“Going down to the American League was good for him,” Ward said. “I think the guys down at the American League, (Heat head coach) Cail MacLean and his staff, they’ve done an excellent job working with him and making him NHL ready. The American League is a good league and it’s a real good opportunity for guys to go down there and learn. It used to be that everybody spent time at the American League. The environment down there is such that you’re playing against men every night, the guys play hard.

“You have to play a lot of games — six games in eight nights or eight games in 11 nights. So, you really have to learn what it entails to be a pro. what you have to do to prepare to play.”

Lately, the Cochrane native is doing this on a nightly basis.

Scoring against the L.A. Kings in the third period, a tap-in rebound off Derek Ryan’s shot, Dube also set up his Stockton roommate Zac Rinaldo’s goal in the second period. He finished the night a plus-two during his 14:11 of ice time and also drew a penalty that led to linemate Milan Lucic’s tally on the powerplay.

“Credit to Looch and Doc,” Dube said following Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Kings. “My first chance when I came up to play with them, we all compliment each other really well. We were playing the right way, we’re hard on the forecheck. It’s not the prettiest . . . but right now, it’s working.”

And while Dube hasn’t started the last two games with Ryan and Lucic — Johnny Gaudreau has been in that spot to start, at least — there is something to be said about Ward’s timely in-game adjustments and the players’ response to them.

To start against the Kings, Dube was with Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund. As the game progressed, he wound up playing regularly with Lucic and Ryan. He has skated with that pair since he was called up on Nov. 17.

“(Ward) just has the confidence in our line that he can snap back together,” Dube said. “It’s almost good because when we get back together, we’re excited. We have chemistry now.

“We feel confident when we get put back together that it’s our time to do something.”

Individually, Ward said he’s noticed a change in Dube from this season. A maturation process that has seen his defensive game improve along with his focus level and confidence with the puck.

“Last year, he was trying to get rid of it right away which is a sign of a player that might not be ready to play at this level yet,” Ward explained. “But now he’s playing with the puck and allowing his skill to stand out. The one thing is, if you work hard and play with structure, then you give your skill a chance to get into the hockey game.

“I think he’s been doing both things so now you start to see the skill come out.”

Heading into Monday’s clash at Colorado (7 p.m., MT, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan) on a four-game win streak, the Flames finally look like they have some scoring depth.

Dube’s contributions — three goals and two assists in the last five games — have been a part of that.

“I just think it’s four lines deep right now,” he said. “It could be the group before us that wears them down and we jump on the ice, they’re scrambling and we have momentum.

“It’s just been really good energy by our team so far.”

Part of that comes directly from Dube himself.

“The one thing about youth is that it brings lots of energy all of the time,” Ward said. “I think it’s infectious for some of the older guys at points.

“But young guys never cheat young effort and they always have lots of energy.”


Hockey Canada has announced that Flames first-round pick Jakob Pelletier will miss world junior selection camp due to injury. The Moncton Wildcats winger — currently sitting fifth in the QMJHL scoring race — is only 18 and will be eligible for a world-junior invite again next winter … Flames goaltending prospect and Everett Silvertips netminder Dustin Wolf made 32 saves in a 6-3 win over the Calgary Hitmen on Sunday at Scotiabank Saddledome.

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