Hard on himself as most players are Sean Monahan had made no excuses about his sub-par pre-season game on Saturday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

In Monday’s 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Saskatoon No. 23 was noticeable — just not in the way Calgary Flames needed their sixth overall 2013 draft pick to be.

But at Regina’s Brandt Centre against the New York Islanders?

Monahan ignited the team’s offence scoring two goals in the second period and capitalizing on the hard work of those around him to pace the group in a 4-2 split-squad victory their third pre-season game in four nights.

Regardless boarding the team charter back to Calgary with roster cuts on the horizon Monahan was just as anxious as anybody.

“Obviously I’m still young” the 18-year-old centreman was saying. “I’m nervous and I don’t know what’s going to happen but my goal is to play here.
“So we’ll see what happens.”

Whether or not Monahan stays or goes back to the Ottawa 67’s in the next few days (or weeks) is anyone’s guess. But if you asked anyone in the assembled crowd of 4189 in Regina (who have seen junior players like Jordan Eberle and Flames prospect Morgan Klimchuk roll through town) you’d likely get the same answer on his fate. Keep him.

Earlier in the day after the game and really since the start of 2013-14 training camp head coach Bob Hartley has been raving.

“For such a young centreman I think he’s adapting real well to NHL hockey” Hartley said at the morning skate. “He still has things to learn which is perfectly normal for any kids that age. He doesn’t get rattled. He’s very poised . . . we have big plans for this young man.

“I don’t know Sean a lot but every day I’m having fun watching him.”

On Tuesday the fun began with the Monahan show in the second period. Hands-down the kid’s impact changed the outcome of the game.

Monahan’s first strike came on an Islanders’ line change 1:11 into the middle frame when he accepted a feed from Corban Knight and found an open corner above veteran NHL goalie Evgeni Nabokov — a nice goal pre-season or not.

Sure he’d taken a hooking penalty immediately after and of course John Tavares — one of the best players on the planet — scored (Later Monahan fessed up “I guess I’ve gotta learn how quick the power-plays are in the NHL”). But he made up for it.

Shortly after Flames veteran (and new resident tough guy?) Matt Stajan capitalized on a turnover up the boards to make it 2-1. Calgary centreman Mikael Backlund put the group up 3-1 thanks to some hard work done by prospects Emile Poirier and Corban Knight grinding along the boards.

Then with 48.9 seconds left in the second Monahan jumped on an open puck chipped out by Sven Baertschi and made no mistake.

“The first one I kind of knew I was going to go shelf there” Monahan said. “But the second one I was just trying to get a stick on it and get it to that side of the net since the goalie was going to slide over.”