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Culkin, Gilmour continue their hockey journey together

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

To both be drafted by the Flames is really cool and I'm excited that we get to be a part of this together.John Gilmour

CALGARY, AB -- The first person to reach out to John Gilmour after he was drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 NHL Draft wasn't his agent or even the Calgary Flames.

It was defenceman Ryan Culkin, the Flames fifth round pick in 2012.

"When he got drafted, I was watching it on TV and I texted him right away," Culkin told "He didn't know he was drafted yet. His agent hadn't called him yet. So, that is pretty cool."

Gilmour and Culkin, both defencemen, have been extremely close since their days playing minor hockey in Montreal. They met in novice and have been best friends ever since.

"It was one of my first years playing hockey," Gilmour reminisced. "I was seven or eight years old. We were on the same team and we grew up playing together.

"To both be drafted by the Flames is really cool and I'm excited that we get to be a part of this together."

The two played on the same teams until their were teens, with Culkin heading off to play in the QMJHL with the Quebec Remparts and Gilmour opting to take the collegiate path, committing to Providence College.

In the 2010-11 season, Culkin played his rookie season in the QMJHL, tallying six goals and 11 points through 60 games. He was the highest-scoring 16-year-old on the roster and was the fifth-leading scorer amongst Remparts defencemen that year.

Culkin would spend another two and half seasons with the Remparts, notching 22 goals and 117 points in his 205 games in Quebec silks. He ended up closing out his major junior career with the Drummondville Voltigeurs after Quebec dealt him at the QMJHL trade deadline.

Gilmour spent the 2010-11 season at the Gilmour Academy (Ohio), acting as an assistant captain, capturing the U18 Mid-Am District Championship and appearing in the U18 AAA National Tournament.

The defenceman moved on to the USHL in 2011-12, playing for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders for a year before heading to Providence for his freshman campaign in 2012-13.

"We took very different paths to get where we are today so it is cool to see us end up back in the same organization," Gilmour smiled.

Both rearguards are coming off strong 2013-14 seasons and both have big ambitions for the upcoming campaign.

Gilmour and the Friars made it to the Hockey East semi-finals, falling 3-1 to New Hampshire, and the NCAA tournament's East Regional, dropping a 3-1 decision to Union, the eventual 2014 champions.

He views them as contenders for the 2015 NCAA Championship.

"As a team, we got a lot better this past year," Gilmour said. "We had a lot of young guys going in two years ago. As we've gotten older, we've gotten more mature and we went pretty far in the playoffs this year.

"We didn't lose a lot of guys so I think we're going to go far this year."

Culkin is preparing for his first full professional season. The 20-year-old was assigned to the Abbotsford Heat after the Voltigeurs were eliminated from the playoffs, getting a taste of what that life is like.

"I'm focusing in on each step," Culkin said. "I want to be in the best shape for training camp in the fall and really push hard in camp."

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