WINNIPEG - Jack Roslovic's first NHL game was a dream come true.
Not only is it a fond memory for the 20-year-old, but it was a historical evening for the young centre who grew up just minutes away from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH.
That night, as the Winnipeg Jets skated to a 5-4 win over the Blue Jackets, Roslovic became the first home grown player to participate in an NHL game.
It's a memory that motivated him all off-season.
"I knew what I had to do with getting that last game in Columbus, knowing what to do on the ice, and that was really helpful in my training," Roslovic said following today's practice at Bell MTS Iceplex.
"It was really good to get that feel, and to be able to go out there, work on it in the gym, and translate it to the ice. That's what I really tried to get out of the summer."
That work paid off immensely, especially when camp opened with on and off-ice fitness testing last week.
"Jack is a really good pro. Just outstanding fitness numbers, really off the charts," said head coach Paul Maurice, who has plans to get the former University of Miami (Ohio) Redhawk into some exhibition action sooner than later.
"We'll get him in some exhibition games here and give him a chance to maybe run back-to-back, and get him some bigger minutes and power play time.
"Especially in that game three and four, all those young guys that are power play guys, they'll get that opportunity then. They'll get to show some offense that they have."
Roslovic has offense, and plenty of it. He led the Manitoba Moose in scoring in 2016-17 with 48 points in 65 games. He also played a big role in helping USA capture the gold medal at the 2017 World Junior Hockey Championship.
In camp, he's been in the centre spot between Shawn Matthias and Nic Petan, two players he's far more familiar with thanks to the experience he gained travelling with the team last season.
"Knowing a lot more guys in the locker room and being up and around the NHL players is really helpful," said Roslovic. "You understand them a little bit more. You kind of know what makes them tick and knowing that is really helpful."
Skating with a group full of NHL experience, Roslovic described the ability to watch players such as Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Matt Hendricks put in the work they do each training camp day as beneficial.
It's one of the lessons Maurice is happy to see the young pivot soak up.
"Jack is a really good pro," said Maurice. "For him, every day is another step closer to the NHL. We have lots of confidence in it. When that day finally arrives, it may not be a straight line, that you get to the NHL and stay there forever, but he's on the right path for sure."
- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com