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Former Flames captain/coach Lowry watching play-in series as proud dad

EDMONTON — Dave Lowry collected an NHL paycheque for nearly 25 years, accustomed to being right in the thick of the action.

Now coaching in the major-junior ranks, he’s watching this unprecedented summer restart from another vantage point.

Trying to, anyway.

“I get reminded sometimes that I might be running the play through my head … but it might be out loud,” Lowry chuckled. “I try to watch it just as a fan, but sometimes it’s hard.”

He’s also watching as a proud pops.

Dave was a Calgary Flames captain, and later an assistant coach for the Saddledome-based franchise.

In the early stages of this series, his youngest son Adam was looking like a could-be Flames killer. The 27-year-old had arguably been the Winnipeg Jets’ best forward so far in this best-of-five qualifier, although his squad was facing elimination in Thursday’s Game 4, a late date in the hub-city bubble in Edmonton.

“Obviously, living in Calgary, you see and hear the series from a whole different perspective and you really see the passion that the city has for their team,” said Dave, who now winters in Brandon, Man., as bench boss for the WHL’s Wheat Kings. (His resume also includes time as skipper for both the Calgary Hitmen and Victoria Royals). “It’s really great to hear people talking hockey again.”

Dave Lowry poured out his sweat for almost two decades as an NHL forward, logging 1,084 regular-season appearances and 111 more come playoff time.

The hard-working winger capped his career with a four-season stint in Calgary, two of those with a ‘C’ stitched on his jersey as co-captain.

Dave’s final big-league appearance came on June 7, 2004. That night ended in heartbreak, with the Flames suffering a 2-1 loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

Lowry suited up for 10 games during that fairytale run, including five in that championship showdown against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Adam, at the time, was a Grade 5 student honing his skills in the Bow Valley minor hockey system. When McKenzie Lake was frozen over, that’s often where you could find him.

“I have a lot of memories from that time, how the city was really behind the Flames,” Adam recalled a couple of years back for a feature on the NHLPA’s website. “I still remember when they won the Western Conference championship, my brother (Joel) didn’t want to go out on the ice, but I went out there and tried to soak everything in. We’d be out on the streets with the honk for Flames fans in the intermissions and dressing up for the home games.”

You could certainly understand how that would leave an impression on a wide-eyed kid.

Joel, who played this past season with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds, and sisters Sarah and Tessa — now a blue-liner for the College of St. Scholastica Saints in the NCAA Division III ranks — were also regulars around the Saddledome during that special spring.

“It was a long time in the making and how it just happened … I remember that first game (at home), they opened the doors early and just how loud it was. They had those bang-sticks, and the whole place was shaking,” Dave said of the Flames’ unexpected ride to the Stanley Cup final in 2004. “And then you stick your head outside, and outside was rocking too. Obviously, one thing led to another and next thing you know, you have the Red Mile.

“I think one of the funniest things that I remember was Game 7 in Vancouver — there was all the up and down, leading and then giving up a goal late and then just the sheer joy of winning,” he added later. “When Gelly (Martin Gelinas) scored in overtime, all the players jumped on the ice, all the coaches were hugging and I’m just standing there. I didn’t know what to do.

“Darryl (Sutter) finally pushed me out onto the ice.”

Dave, who was an assistant coach for the Flames from 2009-12 and later on the Los Angeles Kings’ bench staff for two seasons, was undoubtedly tuned in late Thursday as the Jets tried to push back to even this best-of-five set, and the crew from Calgary tried to push them into summer holidays.

Adam, now in his sixth campaign at hockey’s highest level, has been a difference-maker for his injury-riddled club.

A graduate of the Calgary Buffaloes AAA programs, he assisted on the Jets’ lone marker in Game 1, teeing up Andrew Copp with a sweet backhand feed from behind the net.

He made the heady pass that sprung Jansen Harkins for his breakaway goal early in Game 2 and later scored one of his own, showing impressive hand-eye coordination to knock a puck out of mid-air and past Cam Talbot from the edge of the blue paint.

Throughout the series, he has been trusted as Winnipeg’s top faceoff man.

Adam is one of several second-generation NHLers in this all-Canadian clash — a list that includes Flames regulars Rasmus Andersson (Peter), Elias Lindholm (Mikael) and Matthew Tkachuk (Keith) and Jets fill-in Harkins (Todd).

“He’s had a big impact, right from an early age,” Adam told, reminiscing about growing up around the rink during Dave’s own playing days. “I got to see how an NHL player prepared every day. My dad was never really a guy who was guaranteed a roster spot and I would see how hard he worked in the summertime, the hours he put in the gym and on the ice, and yet he would still find time to coach our baseball team and still being a real active dad for us.

“I just saw a tremendous work ethic and I gained a great understanding of what it takes.”

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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