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Johnny Be Good

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

Johnny Gaudreau scored this highlight reel goal during the Frozen Four. The video of the goal has surpassed 32,000 views on YouTube.

After Johnny Gaudreau scored an absolute beauty against Ferris State at the Frozen Four tournament this spring, Calgary Flames fans hit the internet to express their elation.

Twitter, Facebook, fan forums and blogs were filled with praise for the winger's stellar performance in not only the tournament but for his play throughout the season.

Gaudreau admits he's rarely on a computer, let alone scanning sites to see what is being said about him, but he has someone keeping him in the loop.

"My mom always tells me - she's always looking up stuff - and says, 'People are talking about you. Good job,'" he chuckled.

"I'm like , 'Thanks mom, thanks mom. I know you're happy.'"

Heading into his first year at Boston College, Gaudreau kept his expectations tempered. He was absolutely dominant in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints in 2010-11, posting 36 goals and 72 points in 60 games and was named the USHL's Rookie of the Year.

But playing for an NCAA powerhouse in Boston College is very different from the USHL. He simply wanted to be able to contribute on a regular basis while earning more minutes as the season rolled along.

"Coming in as a freshman, I was just hoping to play in every game and get a couple points here and there.

"But the coaching staff there put me in a whole bunch of opportunities: power play, penalty kill, playing me with (Chris) Kreider, playing me with Paul Carey. Guys who are playing in the NHL and AHL right now. Those guys taught me a lot."

All in all, Gaudreau racked up 44 points (21 goals, 23 assists) in 44 games. He was second in team scoring, named the Beanpot tournament MVP, made the Hockey East all-tournament team, named Hockey East Association Player of the Month in October and was named the Bernie Burke Outstanding Freshman at the 63rd annual Pike's Peak Club awards banquet.

He was integral in Boston College winning the national championship, earning seven points in the Frozen Four tournament in Tampa Bay.

"I didn't think I was going to get drafted," he admitted. "To have the past year-and-a-half I've had, the experiences I've had, it's really memorable. I'm thankful for it every day."

To cap off the year, Gaudreau was named the Hockey East Tournament MVP. He is just the fifth freshman to capture the Bill Flynn Trophy and is honoured to join that select group of rookies.

"I was pretty excited about it and surprised as well," he said. "That's a big accomplishment for me and I'm really excited about winning that award. But I'm even happier that my team did so well this year."

What makes Gaudreau's season even more impressive is how he played when the stakes were high. He never seemed to falter under the pressure and was able to lead his team through some tough games and tournaments.

"I like playing in those situations," he noted. "It's fun. I don't mind pressure at all."

Later this summer, Gaudreau will attend USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, NY and audition for a spot on Team USA's World Junior roster. He didn't make the team last year and is using that disappointment as motivation.

"I was one of the last cuts last year," he said. "I want to show them I can play at the level and make the team. It's one of my goals for next year."

Another goal Gaudreau has for the 2012-13 campaign is firming up his defensive play. He made strides in that regard last year but feels there is more room for improvement when it comes to playing in his own end.

"Coming into the USHL two years ago, I was awful in the defensive zone. My coach out there, Jim Montgomery, told me it's a crucial part of the game. I got better throughout that year and then coming into BC, it's a higher level so I had get better."

Gaudreau has been dismissed by many due to his size (5-foot-8 and 155 lbs.) throughout his career but the Flames looked past his stature when drafting him. They saw the talent, vision and speed he possesses and he appreciates their unwavering support.

"Throughout the year, everyone is looking down on me because I'm small," he said. "Just to have someone supporting me instead of criticizing me gives me a lot more energy and a lot more momentum to show these guys that I can (play in the NHL).

"Hopefully I will do it some day."

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