Flames win first Calder Cup

The Saint John Flames won their first American Hockey League championship Monday night with a 1-0 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Darrel Scoville scored on a power play with 5.1 seconds left in the second period for the lone goal and goaltender Martin Brochu made 18 saves for his fourth shutout of the playoffs.

"It's a good feeling," said Brochu. "Wilkes-Barre was a really hard team to go through.

"I wasn't at my best in the last round, but I tried to forget about what happened. Tonight, I just wanted to go out there and play my best.

"To be honest, I knew we were going to win before the game."

The Flames won the best-of-seven Calder Cup final 4-2 to become the first New Brunswick-based team to capture the AHL championship since the New Brunswick Hawks, who played out of Moncton, in 1982.

Saint John winger Steve Begin, with 10 goals in the playoffs and a mangled face as a testament to his grit and determination, was named playoff MVP.

"He (Begin) and Brochu are the heart and soul of this team," said Flames winger Sergei Varlamov, who had playoff-best 15 goals.

Captain Marty Murray accepted the league trophy from AHL president Dave Andrews before 6,620 endlessly cheering fans -- the largest hockey crowd in Harbour Station history.

Murray was mobbed by his teammates as Queen's We Are The Champions blared in the background.

Scoville scored the winner when he cruised in from the right point, took a pass from Varlamov and swept a wrist shot past goalie Rich Parent from between the hash marks.

Parent had lost his stick during a scramble.

"It's definitely the biggest goal of my life," said Scoville, from Regina.

Saint John outshot the Penguins 39-18.

When the Flames got the puck down the ice with five seconds left in the game, the players started jumping for joy.

When the final horn sounded, Tina Turner's Simply The Best roared over the loud speakers and Flames president Nick Georgoudis offered his trademark fedora to coach Jim Playfair.

"It's rewarding for me because we had a bunch of young kids who came together and committed to a program," said Playfair.

"They were rewarded for their efforts and they reached the pinacle of their league. They should take pride knowing that they came together as individuals and worked together as a team."

The Flames held a commanding edge in territorial play throughout the first 40 minutes, but still required some big stops by Brochu.

Brochu made an outstanding save in the second period with his left pad on a redirection by Tom Kostopoulos.

Later, the eight-year veteran made the biggest save of the night, sprawling across the crease to deny Eric Meloche on a setup by Toby Petersen.

Parent was almost as strong at the Penguins' end, stoning Chris Clark from point-blank range and then stopping the rebound shot by Clark.

By Aaron Kennedy