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Eagles pair set for debut against Canucks

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

It’s crazy, it’s hard to put into words. It’s a dream come true and something I’ve worked hard for my whole life. It’s just amazing that I’m going to get that opportunity.Bill Arnold

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The Eagles have landed.

Freshly signed Boston Eagles standouts Bill Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau will make their National Hockey League debuts together when the Calgary Flames visit the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

“It’s crazy, it’s hard to put into words,” Arnold said. “It’s a dream come true and something I’ve worked hard for my whole life. It’s just amazing that I’m going to get that opportunity.

“I’m just trying to take it step-by-step, day-by-day here. Just go through and make sure I’m taking everything in and enjoying the moment because it only happens once. I’m going to love every moment of it.”

Boston College was eliminated from Frozen Four contention by Union College on Thursday in Philadelphia. Less than 24 hours later, both Gaudreau and Arnold had inked entry-level deals with the Flames to turn pro.

The loss meant the end of Arnold’s collegiate career. The 21-year-old finished sixth in the nation in scoring with 53 points in 40 games.

Gaudreau, a junior, had the option of returning to Boston College for another season. The Hobey Baker winner led the nation in scoring with 36 goals and 80 points through 40 games and managed to get his name in Hockey East history book by tying Paul Kariya's record with a 31-game point streak.

He also earned Hockey East Player of the Year Award, Walter Brown Award, Leonard Fowle Award and Herb Gallagher Award.

With little left to accomplish, the 20-year-old opted to turn pro.

“It’s been an exciting week here in [Philadelphia],” said Gaudreau, a fourth round pick (No. 104) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. “I’m excited to get a chance to play for the Flames. This past month has been pretty crazy with hockey and what I’m going to do with next year. I’m finally excited to get some stress off my shoulders and play hockey now.”

When the pair hit the ice in Vancouver, the Flames will establish a new franchise record for NHL debuts in a single season with 12.

They’ll also mark the 15th and 16th rookies to dress for Calgary this season.

“[My] first NHL game is going to be pretty exciting,” Gaudreau said. “There is a lot of first year guys there that I got to play with in Calgary in the summer and they came up and played their first [NHL] game so I’m definitely going to be talking to them and see how they did it so easily—it’s definitely going to be one of my concerns there.”

Gaudreau won’t just have the likes of Kenny Agostino, Bryce Van Brabant and Ben Hanowski -- all of which made the jump from the college ranks to the NHL directly after signing.

He’ll also have Arnold, a teammate of three years, on the ice with him against the Canucks.

“The comfort level drives up a little bit because you are always going to have someone you know by your side for the next few days here,” Arnold said. “He’s one of my best friends so getting to share this moment with him is something I’ll never forget.”

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