Cory Schneider denied Garden State native, Kenny Agostino's second-period breakaway shot during Monday night's game at Prudential Center. The goal would have been Agostino's second career goal had it made it past the netminder. (Photo / Getty Images)
Kenny Agostino’s career seems to be anchored around Prudential Center. Whether he was at Delbarton, Yale or now in the NHL, there seems to be no getting away from it.
Less than a month after joining the NHL ranks he returned to its familiar ice to play the Devils. Although he only had five professional games under his belt before playing New Jersey, the game against the Devils was far from his first time skating at the Rock. However, it was his first time playing in a Flames jersey.
|Agostino, wearing the number 51 skates up against the Devils' Peter Harrold. This was Agostino's first trip back to Newark since signing his NHL contract with the Calgary Flames last month. (Photo / Getty Images) |
Agostino, the New Jersey native and Delbarton alum won three NJSIAA state tournaments at the Rock with the Green Wave in high school under head coach Bruce Shatel. He then most recently returned with the Yale Bulldogs last fall for the Liberty Hockey Invitational.
Whenever he returns to the Rock it is a special occasion and Monday night’s game was no different. In the stands, he had at 35-40 family members and friends, including old Yale and Delbarton teammates, cheering him on. He also had the two head coaches that helped shape his career, Shatel and Yale coach, Keith Allain.
"It was very exciting for all of us who know Kenny to see him play against the Devils the other night. We know how hard he has worked to get to this point," Shatel said. "It is every kid's dream to play in the NHL and I couldn't be happier for him. He is a great player and a great young man. He continues to make all of us at Delbarton very proud."
When Agostino made the final decision to leave Yale amidst his senior year and sign his contract with the Flames, you couldn’t help but wonder when the NHL would bring him back to Newark. With the Flames in the Western Conference and the Devils in the East, his return could have been a long way off, but with a late season game, it seemed as if he was destined to come back earlier than expected.
The 21-year old winger beat out veteran goalie, Roberto Luongo on April 4 to score his first NHL goal against the Florida Panthers. The goal opened up scoring in the game and gave his team the 1-0 lead before taking the 2-1 win. That night as the Devils played against the Capitals, his goal was replayed on Prudential Center’s jumbotron in front of the hometown crowd. It was clear the Agostino had officially arrived.
In post-game interviews Agostino talked about how special it was to come back to play in New Jersey in front of the people closest to him. And although he tried not to look into the stands, the moment his team won he looked up and there was no denying that everyone in the Flames shirts were there to see him.
He still has a long way to go in his career and a lot to learn in the transition from college hockey, but there is no doubt that he won’t be back playing at the Rock.
For more, head to NJ Youth Hockey Central.