Veteran ref drew ire of Calgary fans
CALGARY, Alberta -- Referee Kerry Fraser was pulled Friday from his Game 6 assignment after feeling the wrath of angry Calgary Flames fans earlier in the Stanley Cup finals.
Instead, Bill McCreary and Stephen Walkom -- the same officials from Calgary's Game 5 victory at Tampa Bay -- will be the referees Saturday night when the Flames can capture their second Stanley Cup.
Fraser had objects thrown at him and heard boos and derisive chants during Game 4 when Tampa Bay evened the best-of-seven series. The Lightning scored the only goal of the game during a two-man advantage early in the first period.
With just over four minutes left, Ville Nieminen was given a major penalty for boarding Vincent Lecavalier, which ended any hopes the Flames had of getting even. And perceived non-calls from the partisan crowd also increased the anger coming from the seats.
Fraser was also one of the referees for Game 3, a 3-0 victory for the Flames in Calgary.
The change came two days after Calgary coach Darryl Sutter alleged that many in the NHL don't want the Flames to win the Stanley Cup.
With 28 games left in the regular season, Calgary coach Darryl Sutter split the remaining contests up into seven-game segments in an attempt to get his team into a playoff mode.
The plan worked. The Flames went 16-10-2 the rest of the way and earned four victories in each seven-game "series" to earn their first playoff berth in eight years.
"We had so many guys that hadn't been in the playoffs before," defenseman Andrew Ference said Friday. "To get in that mind-set of what it takes to concentrate on a set number of games and in the series kind of a fashion was beneficial."
It didn't get to the point where they felt the pressure of a Game 7, but it did help the Flames recognize what were the important games on the schedule.
"It wasn't at the forefront of every conversation we had but it was definitely there as another thing we can concentrate on," Ference said. "A lot of the big games that we had during our playoff stretch just happened to fall in certain games within the series that would either clinch it or put us ahead."
Shean Donovan played only three shifts after the second period Thursday because of a leg injury.
Flames coach Darryl Sutter called the injury a charley horse, but it looked to be more serious than that when Lightning defenseman Jassen Cullimore fell on Donovan's right leg.
Sutter was asked on Friday whether he expected Donovan to play in Game 6. He wasn't going to offer any information without getting some in return.
Miikka Kiprusoff was the latest winner of the green hard hat given to the Calgary Flames' unsung hero after each victory.
His 26-save performance in a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 5 earned him the honor. Calgary only needs one more win to capture its second Stanley Cup, and the Flames don't care who the hero is as long as there is one.
"I think all guys that play are heroes," forward Marcus Nilson said. "Doesn't really matter who ends up putting the puck in the net. When you win, you win as 20 guys and that's 20 heroes."
The Tampa Bay Lightning held an optional skate at the Saddledome on Friday following their overnight flight from Florida.
All of the Lightning took the opportunity to get on the ice less than 24 hours after an overtime loss put them on the brink of elimination in the Stanley Cup finals.
"Sitting on that plane for five hours ... it's a good thing and they will feel much better (Saturday)," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said about why all of his players practiced.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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