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Gaudreau, Arnold relish their NHL debuts

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

You get a little taste of it and you want more. It's unfortunate the season's over but it definitely gives me motivation for the summer.Bill Arnold on his NHL debut

VANCOUVER, BC -- While the result wasn't what they would have liked, Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold thoroughly enjoyed their first taste of NHL action on Sunday.

Gaudreau, fresh off his Hobey Baker win, scored the Flames lone goal in the 5-1 setback to the Vancouver Canucks while Arnold nearly recorded his first NHL marker, misfiring in front of an open net.

In total, Gaudreau registered one shot, one takeaway and was a plus-one through 15:11 of ice time. Arnold, in 13:35 of ice time, won 56 per cent of his draws and threw one hit.

"It was a fun game, wish we would have come out with a win. But it was a great experience for me to get my first game," Gaudreau said as the team packed up to head back to Calgary.

"I felt fine. I thought I had an alright game. I got to play with a whole bunch of really talented players out there so it was fun."

Gaudreau's tally, coming at the 15:22 mark of the second period, was the result of good positioning. Perched at the side of the net and evading Canucks defenders, the diminutive forward was able to get his stick on Chris Breen's shot and slip it past Jacob Markstrom.

"I was just in the right place, at the right time," he explained. "It was nice shot by Breener. I just happened to be standing in the right spot so I got a nice little tap-in goal."

Looking back on his near-goal, Arnold lamented about nerves perhaps getting in the way on the play.

He went charging towards the net and when Giordano drew Markstrom over to one side of the net, he flipped the puck over to rookie in hopes that he could deposit it into the empty cage.

"That was a great pass by Gio and I've got to bury those. There's no real excuse there. It was there. I was just holding my stick too tight. I've got to bury that next time."

One aspect both Gaudreau and Arnold picked up on right away was the size of their opposition. The difference in size between college players and NHLers can be drastic and it caught their attention as soon as they stepped on the ice.

"In warm-ups, I looked down at the other end and there were a lot bigger guys than I expected. That was a little shocking," Gaudreau said.

Arnold was tasked with lining up against Henrik Sedin in his first NHL face-off and was a little shell-shocked about the size of the Swede.

"It was definitely crazy," he said. "He was a little bigger than I thought. But I'd like to have that one back. He got the best of me. I think I got him later in the game.

"Everyone's a bit bigger than you expect, especially coming from the college game. But it was a lot of fun to be out there."

Now, as they get ready to head back to Boston College to finish their sememster, the pair have a better idea of what lays ahead. Being able to get into an NHL match-up has given them some perspective on what they face next year and what they will need to do earn a roster spot next fall.

"You get a little taste of it and you want more," Arnold stated. "It's unfortunate the season's over but it definitely gives me motivation for the summer."

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