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OVER THE MOON

Mangiapane on inking new two-year pact: 'I love the team; I love the city. I love everything about Calgary.'

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

In two short years, everything has changed.

From the apple-cheeked freshman, to one of the team's elite strikers.

From the 'kid' clamouring for ice time, to an explosive, impact player, munching it at will.

Andrew Mangiapane is no longer the underdog, or the passed-over-twice, late-round 'longshot,' who began his odyssey, like countless others, hoping to work his way up from the fourth line. 

He's here. 

To stay.

And he's one of the foundational pieces the Flames will be building their team around for years to come.

"It's really exciting," Mangiapane said after signing a two-year, $4.85M ($2.425M AAV) pact to remain in the Stampede City. "I love the team; I love the city. I love everything about Calgary, so I couldn't be happier to be back for another two years."

Mangiapane is coming off a breakout season, elevating himself into a top-six role with 17 goals and 32 points, before adding another two tallies and five points in 10 playoff dates. 

Having now established himself as one of the team's core players, Mangiapane feels the best is yet to come. 

"Throughout the season and even going back to the (previous) year, every game I was getting more and more comfortable," he explained. "I know I say that a lot, but confidence is big in this league. Once you realize that, everything changes. 

"Once everyone starts believing in you, and you believe in yourself, the game becomes easier and much more natural."

 

Video: Watch No. 88's best plays from the season

 

In the past, Mangiapane spoke at length about confidence and the need for it to be prevalent to succeed at the NHL level. 

If you recall the winger's rookie season, he was placed on a line with Derek Ryan and the now-departed Garnet Hathaway late in the campaign to form the ultimate checking trio. 

Affectionately known as the 'DAG' Line - though, understandably lacking the sizzle of Philadelphia's Legion of Doom, or the supremely talented French Connection in Buffalo - Mangiapane discovered, first hand, what that belief can do for a player. 

To this day, he still views that two- or three-week period as a turning point in his career. 

"I still don't know who came up with the name," laughed Mangiapane, who scored in three straight games during their most fertile stretch of pre-playoff action, "but we definitely clicked.

"We were close on and off the ice, and we played the game the only way we knew how. We talked to each other a ton about little plays and details on the ice, so when it was time for our shift, we didn't have to think. It all came natural to us.

"I've got to give a lot of credit to them. They really helped give the confidence I needed to play."

It took Mangiapane 26 games to secure his first-career tuck, but ever since that night - Feb. 9, 2019, in Vancouver - there's been a flood of offence filling the opponent's net.  

Ninety-six tilts later, the 24-year-old has buried 25 pucks, with every last one of them coming at even strength.  

His production in that category last year put him third on the Flames, behind leading goal-getter Elias Lindholm's 21 even-strength markers, and Matthew Tkachuk's 19. 

 

Video: DAL@CGY, Gm6: Mangiapane tips home goal in front

 

He spent most of the campaign on a line with Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund, with the trio forming a dominant, symbiotic partnership that allowed all three to thrive, despite the heavy, defensive responsibility. 

But Mangiapane, in particular, was a real driver on offence, with no other Flame besting his head-turning, 53% Corsi-For stat. 

Now, with an increase in gravy minutes likely to come in his future, Mangiapane knows he that has plenty more to show. 

"Even at the start of this past season, I was playing (fewer) minutes and starting out on a lower line, waiting for my opportunity," he said. "Then, things changed. 

"I got the opportunity and started playing more minutes. Hopefully, I can start to play more on the powerplay, too, because I still think there's a lot of room for me to grow, and a lot more for me to show, offensively. I'm still trying to prove myself, but I know what I'm capable of, so I can't wait to get back on the ice so I can do that."

Mangiapane has now earned himself a nice raise, while the team locks in a young stud at a fair price to ensure they can properly fill out the roster and assemble a contender for the upcoming season. 

A win-win. 

 

 

But for now, Mangiapane is relishing the moment. 

Having made a career out of beating the odds and silencing the doubters, he's more than earned it.

"I was undrafted player in Barrie, made it as a walk-on, got passed over the first time in the NHL Draft, and then had to work my way up," he said. 

"Now, today, I'm signing my first big contract. 

"It's been a rollercoaster, but it definitely means a lot as I look back on everything. I've grown so much from my time in Barrie to now, in my first couple of years of pro. 

"It's really surreal.

"I can barely put it into words."

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