This is just as much for them as it is for me. They're just as much a part of this as I am. It's going to be special for all of us. - Kenny Agostino on his parents coming in for his NHL debut
CALGARY, AB -- It's just over 3206 kilometres from Flanders, New Jersey to Calgary, Alberta but Anne and Ken Agostino surely won't mind the trek, even though it's on short notice.
Just last week, their son Kenny Agostino was sitting in class in New Haven and hoping he and the Yale Bulldogs would be able to down Quinnipiac to move on to the ECAC semi-finals.
When Quinnipiac swept the 2013 NCAA champs in the quarter-finals, the Flames signed the 21-year-old to a two-year entry-level deal and he jetted off to Calgary to get started on his professional career.
Now, four days after signing with the Flames, he's ready to make his NHL debut with his parents, who flew in today, cheering him on in the stands.
"I'm sure it's going to be special," he said after the Flames morning skate. "They're an emotional Italian family so I'm sure there will be some tears flowing. I couldn't ask for two better parents throughout my hockey career, with the support.
"This is just as much for them as it is for me. They're just as much a part of this as I am. It's going to be special for all of us."
The Saddledome seats over 19,000 people but Agostino wouldn't be shocked if one person makes their presence known over all others.
"My mom will probably be the loudest woman in the arena," he chuckled.
The forward arrived in Calgary on Monday evening and has gotten into three practices with the Flames, including a lengthy session on Thursday.
The coaches have been pumping him with information and updating him on the systems the team employs. He has impressed Bob Hartley and his staff with his inquisitiveness and his desire to make sure he understands everything they're throwing at him.
"I think they're trying not to system-overload me," he stated. "I don't want to do that to myself but nonetheless, I think it's always good to ask questions in order to figure out what they like in the d-zone, what they like in the o-zone."
Hartley has placed Agostino on a line with fellow rookies Sean Monahan and Joe Colborne. The trio have practiced together over the last two days, giving Monahan and Colborne a chance to learn Agostino's tendencies and show him the ropes.
"They've been great," Agostino smiled. "Really encouraging on the bench, helping me out with drills. Lots of positive feedback."
Now, after the incredible pace of the last week, he only has a few more hours to go until he steps onto the ice for his first NHL game.
"It's definitely a little change of pace and it's happened fast. But again, I'm trying to enjoy it and take it all in. Not take anything for-granted. But at the same time, I'm not going to be star-struck out there.
"I'm here to play a hockey game."