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Calgary Flames newbie Connor Zary won’t be headed back to the minors anytime soon. Fellow forward call-up Martin Pospisil is also pushing to stick around for a long while. 

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Their puck-stopping pal, Dustin Wolf, has been waiting for his chance to make a similar statement. With usual starter Jacob Markstrom bothered by an undisclosed injury and the Flames playing a back-to-back set, opportunity could come knocking Saturday against the Ottawa Senators. 

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Freshly recalled from the farm, Wolf served as Calgary’s backup during Friday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, watching from the bench at Scotiabank Arena as franchise legend Mike Vernon was honoured with the latest class of Hockey Hall of Fame inductees, as Dan Vladar delivered a 32-save showing and as both Zary and Pospisil notched their second career goals at the NHL level. 

Zary has logged four appearances since being summoned from the AHL’s Wranglers. Pospisil is at three. 

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With a pair of snipes each, they’re tied on the team charts with the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, Elias Lindholm and captain Mikael Backlund. Through 13 games, they’ve all cashed a couple. 

“They’ve done a good job, they really have,” said Flames coach Ryan Huska when asked after Friday’s single-pointer about the latest additions to his lineup. “All the guys that have come in and played for us over the last little while, they’ve played well. We need that, because it not only is something that our team needs to be successful, but it also is a push for some other players, too.  

“We’re happy with the way they’ve played, for sure.” 

Which brings us back to Wolf. 

Markstrom hasn’t been on the ice for a full team session since Tuesday. He is officially day-to-day. 

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Vladar was busy in Toronto, especially since the Flames were so leaky in early stages. He, too, sharpened up as the evening wore on, slamming the door with 11 saves in the third period.   

So the Flames have these three options in Ottawa … 

Hope that Markstrom is feeling better. 

Hope that Vladar isn’t feeling too tired. 

Or turn to Wolf, for whom they have such high hopes.   

The 22-year-old won his NHL debut in April and certainly arrives with some confidence. In six starts with the Wranglers this fall, the AHL’s reigning MVP has posted a 5-1 record, a 2.34 goals-against average and a. 924 save percentage. 

He should be encouraged, too, by what Zary and Pospisil are doing.  

Plugged into middle-six forward slots immediately after their recalls, they helped put an end to a six-game losing skid. The Flames are 2-0-1 since then, impressive since they trailed in each of those three contests. A little youthful exuberance has been an effective ingredient.  

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After the Maple Leafs put the first ink on Friday’s score-sheet, the 22-year-old Zary responded by depositing his own rebound. 

With the Flames later whittling away at a 4-1 deficit, Pospisil buried a backhand from the edge of the crease for the equalizer. Skating on a line with Backlund and Blake Coleman, the 23-year-old left-hander was also credited with a game-high five hits.  

“It feels great, but it would feel even better if we win tonight,” Pospisil told Sportsnet 960 The Fan in a post-game interview. “I want to help this team, bring some energy and skills. That’s what I want to keep doing. I just want to help this team to win.”  

The young guys are, no doubt, helping. 

Although Zary will be frustrated by a failed shootout attempt in Toronto, he has started his NHL career on a four-game point-streak. The last Flames freshman to do that was Sean Monahan. 

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“I was talking to my mom or dad the other day and saying it’s kind of every first shift is like, ‘Ok, we’re here,’ ” Zary told reporters after an entertaining affair at Scotiabank Arena, where Vernon provided a brief pep-talk in the Flames’ locker-room and read the starting lineup before joining the rest of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 for a ceremonial puck-drop. “But then I think I settle in and kind of find my game again. It’s been good. I feel confident in my game. I feel good about what I’m doing. There’s some little details, little things I have to clean up, especially tonight in the defensive zone, little nuances that I can do better on.  

“But overall, I feel good about my game.”  

You might be thinking that comparing a left-winger to a goaltender is a case of apples to oranges. And in some ways, it is.  

But Wolf and Zary have plenty in common. 

They’re both 22.  

They’ve spent essentially the same amount of time in the minors.   

One is now poised to graduate from the list of Calgary’s top prospects, while the other sits atop it. 

Maybe he gets his shot Saturday to prove he, too, is ready to stay. 

On X: @WesGilbertson 

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