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Learning the pro ropes

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames
Greg Nemisz is a busy hockey player these days. In fact, the Calgary Flames first round draft pick from 2008 is having an all-hockey summer.

Nemisz capped a strong season with the Windsor Spitfires -- 77 points in 65 games -- by winning the Memorial Cup on May 24. By mid-June he had moved to Calgary and was sharing an apartment with two other Flame prospects, defenceman Gord Baldwin and forward John Armstrong. This week he is attending the Flames development camp. Next up is the Team Canada World Junior Championship camp, then Flames training camp, then Spitfires camp.

Yes, it is a hectic schedule but one Nemisz is fully committed to.

"You've got to make sure you take your off days and really rest and relax. You have to stay focused on what you want to do. You want to be a hockey player, you are going to have to make a little bit of sacrifice but it is worth it," said the strapping 6'3", 195-pound Nemisz, who contributed 23 points, including 10 goals, in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs leading up to the Memorial Cup.

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The hard work and dedication is bearing some fruit for Nemisz, who turned 19 just before moving to Calgary for the summer. On Tuesday the Flames announced that they had agreed to terms with Ontario native on his first professional contract..

"It's an exciting time and it is step in the right direction," said Nemisz.

There is more good news. Nemisz, who is working with Flames strength and conditioning coach Rich Hesketh in Calgary, has been invited to Team Canada's World Junior Championships development camp in Saskatoon in August.

Nemisz is certainly on steep learning curve this summer but he has a little help -- both Armstrong and Baldwin made the transition from junior hockey to the pro ranks last year and have been nurturing Nemisz.

"It's great. They have taught me a lot and they are just great guys to live with," he said. "You know, living on your own for the first time you learn a lot. You get food, you cook food, you do all your dishes. It's a good experience."

It's all part of moving ahead from the amateur ranks to the pro ranks.

"To get a little taste of that in the summer is nice," he said.

Still, it's been a very busy schedule. So busy that Nemisz hasn't really soaked in the fact that he was on a team that won the ultimate junior prize in the Memorial Cup.

"It was huge. It was exciting. It has been such a whirlwind year I haven't really had time to reflect on it," said Nemisz. "It was amazing, It is something we want to do next year."

Going back for a repeat certainly is a possibility for Nemisz. But there are many roads ahead.

"First and foremost I want to be a Calgary Flames. But I have to be real to myself. I have a lot of work to do. They are going to have a really strong team this year but I am going to try my hardest to make the team out of camp. But if I don't I want to play World Juniors and we have a good chance of going to the Memorial Cup again next year."

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