CALGARY — A self-described hometown kid, Kailer Yamamoto's first game with his new team was a good one on Monday.
Yamamoto scored a pair of power play goals to lead the Seattle Kraken to a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames in the first of a split-squad double-header.
“I get to play in basically my hometown, and I'm just super excited about it,” said Yamamoto, who was born in nearby Spokane where he also played four years of junior hockey.
The 24-year-old right winger signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal in the summer after having played the last six seasons with the Edmonton Oilers.
One season removed from putting up a career-best 20 goals and 41 points, he's hoping he'll get the opportunity with Seattle to back to that level.
“It's a great team and there's a lot of good players on this team. I know I've got to work for that spot, but I'm really hoping that I get that chance,” said Yamamoto.
Cale Fleury, Ty Kartye and Will Borgen also scored for Seattle.
Walker Duehr, Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane replied for Calgary.
Up 4-3 in the third, Yamamoto put the game away at 11:21 of the third on his second power play goal of the game with the former Edmonton Oiler burying a rebound.
“It was a good game for the first one,” said Yamamoto. “A little bit sloppy at times, for sure, but I expected it for the first one. But coming into a new season, I'm excited.”
The story of the game for the home side was the loss of 22-year-old Jakob Pelletier, who left the game and didn't return after getting sent heavily into the boards with six seconds remaining in the first period.
As Pelletier took a cross-ice pass and raced through the neutral zone and into the Kraken end, he attempted to stop up quickly and curl back. But with Seattle winger Marian Studenic, 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, in tight pursuit, Studenic's momentum as he put his arms out to brace himself sent Pelletier, 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, crashing head and shoulders first into the boards.
After writhing on the ice in obvious pain, Pelletier was eventually escorted off the ice by the Flames' trainer, noticably favouring his left shoulder. He did not return. Studenic was assessed a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct.
“It's an upper body injury,” said Flames coach Ryan Huska. “The doctors will do some stuff with him tomorrow and we'll have a better idea of what actually it is.”
Calgary's first-round pick in 2019, Pelletier is expected to play a much bigger role with the Flames this season. He spent the second half of last season in the NHL, scoring three times in 24 games.
“I feel bad for him. Such a positive energy guy,” said Backlund. “Great teammate, so it's really hard to see him leave the game early on.”
Before departing, Pelletier had an assist, picking up the second helper on Duehr's opening goal four minutes into the game..
“You never want to see that, especially in an exhibition when he's really trying to showcase himself and I thought we had got off to a pretty strong start there,” Duehr said.
Getting the start for Seattle was Chris Driedger, who stopped 17 of 19 shots in 40 minutes of action. Ales Stezka made four saves in relief.
Driedger is trying to return to the NHL after missing most of last season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in May 2022 while playing for Canada at the World Championships.
Dustin Wolf, reigning two-time AHL goaltender of the year and last season's league MVP, went the distance for the Flames. He finished with 24 stops.
“Obviously these games suck, you don't want to lose, but at the same time they're great games where you can learn a lot from them and my motto is either you win or you learn,” said Wolf.
While it was Seattle's first pre-season action, it was a vastly different game from Sunday night when the Flames defeated Vancouver 10-0 in their opener.
“It was a different game than last night. The penalties for us, in particular, I don't think we were nearly disciplined enough and that's something that we'll learn as we go,” Huska said.
With the Flames light on bodies in camp as a result of not inviting anybody to camp on on professional tryouts and needing to field two full teams on Monday, Noah Hanifin and Dillon Dube along with newly acquired Yegor Sharangovich were among the veterans who had to play in back-to-back nights.
In his pre-season debut, Flames defenceman Mackenzie Weegar logged only 12:24 in ice time before being thrown out in the second period and being tagged with 24 penalty minutes. In a skirmish five minutes into the period, Weegar was assessed a roughing minor, unsportsmanlike conduct, and 10-minute misconduct. Then after play resumed and while he was sitting in the penalty box, he was handed an additional game misconduct.
Kraken: Play host to Vancouver at Climate Pledge Arena on Thursday.
Flames: Travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets on Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2023.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press