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Signing pro deal 'great feeling' for Mangiapane

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

He was never drafted into the Ontario Hockey League.

Ditto his first time through the National Hockey League’s entry draft process.

So to put the pen to an entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames on Wednesday?

Andrew Mangiapane was exhaustedly thrilled.

“It was definitely a good feeling,” said Mangiapane, making the media rounds to discuss the latest, greatest milestone in his hockey career. “I’m glad to be a part of the Flames organization.

“It’s such a great feeling.”

It’s a feeling he might not have expected in the not too distant past.

Not getting drafted and all that, it just made me go harder in the gym, working out, going on the ice and working on my shot…all the little things.Andrew Mangiapane

The Flames nabbed Mangiapane in the sixth round, 166th overall, in the 2015 NHL Draft, one year after he went unplucked in the 210 picks used in his first go-round in 2014, and three years after he didn’t catch a sniff when eligible for the 15-round OHL Priority Selection in 2012.

Neither stopped the 5-foot-10, 177-pound Mangiapane.

And it made seeing his signature on the line even more satisfying.

“There have been so many ups and downs playing hockey, right, not getting drafted into the OHL and not getting drafted into the NHL my first year, and then getting picked up my second year,” he said.

“I guess I just used that as motivation, not getting drafted. Me using that as motivation, it made me work harder and harder. Not getting drafted and all that, it just made me go harder in the gym, working out, going on the ice and working on my shot…all the little things.

“It’s an unreal feeling from where I came from.”

From undrafted, to signed as a free agent into the OHL.

To 118 goals and 261 points in 195 career regular season games with Barrie.

To drafted by Calgary.

To signed by the Flames.

And, according to assistant general manager Craig Conroy, well deserved.

“He loves to score goals,” Conroy told Flames TV. “You can teach defense and you can teach other things, but one thing you can’t teach is how to produce offense. Now with him having back-to-back 100-point seasons it’s pretty impressive. He just seems to keep getting better and better each year.

“We always say later in the draft, ‘what does he have? Is there something special about this player.’ For Andrew, it was about his offensive instincts…kind of like a Johnny Gaudreau where we said he might be small, but he does some special things on the ice and we can take a chance.

“It’s the same thing with Andrew. Maybe he’s not as big as you’d like…he’s not 6-foot-2…but he’s got a big heart and he competes every night.”

Mangiapane, perhaps ironically, isn’t ready to turn pro though.

With NHL contract in hand, he’s instead going to do his best to prolong that jump.

The 19-year-old standout is entering the first round of the OHL Playoffs, with the hopes that his Colts go deep. Very deep.

Deep enough that the thought of jumping to the pro ranks to finish this season is erased.

And worry about turning pro in the fall.

“This year has definitely been great,” said Mangiapane, who opens action against the Mississauga Steelheads on Thursday. “It would be even sweeter if we went far in the playoffs here. That’s the goal for Barrie. We have a great team this year. The goal is to go far in the playoffs and hopefully win.

“There are great guys down here. I want to play my game and try to win and win for the team.

“That’s the main goal right now, for the team to win.”

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