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Calgary's Street to debut in hometown Vancouver

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- If you handed Ben Street a team of Hollywood’s top screenwriters, he still can’t imagine coming up with a better script for his NHL debut than what will play out Saturday night.

Called up from the American Hockey League by the Calgary Flames the day before, Street will play his first NHL game in his hometown against the Vancouver Canucks, in front of family, friends and his fiancé, while the rest of the Street clan watches into the wee hours back in Newfoundland on "Hockey Night in Canada."

It’s hard to imagine a better way to celebrate Hockey Day in Canada.

"I don’t know what else I would add into the story," Street said after Saturday’s morning skate. "On 'Hockey Night in Canada' where you grew up, I don’t think there’s anything I can add to it at this point."

How about being in the Hockey Hall of Fame before playing your first game in the NHL? The Hall asked for Street’s stick after he scored the second of two goals three seconds apart for the Abbotsford Heat against the Toronto Marlies earlier this season.

"That was cool," Street said, noting Abbotsford teammate goaltender Barry Brust also set an AHL shutout streak record this season. "We were laughing that maybe this is going to be a different year, a lot of special things will go on, and this is one of them."

It's particularly special because Street was signed as an undrafted free agent on July 2. He led the nearby Heat in scoring with 12 goals and 31 points before being called up, and is expected to start in the NHL between Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka, with at least 10 people cheering in person and a lot more through the television on the opposite coast.

Street, 25, was trying to maintain his normal game-day routine, but admitted being in the NHL hasn't really sunk in yet.

"I don’t want that to happen – maybe after the game," he said. "I actually slept pretty good (Friday night) but I don't feel so confident about my nap today. I am just trying to keep a level head and try to make it as normal as possible. I’m not going to tie my skates any different."

Street credits his father, an emergency room doctor, for the ability to stay even keeled through adversity and excitement.

"He never brought work home with him and there’s some pretty tragic stuff that happened," Street said. "We could never tell if he had a good day or a bad day. He was level when he came back."

Street said his parents moved away from a large extended family in Newfoundland to find "more opportunities" for him and his sister, Katie. Unlike growing up, he knows they won’t be able to hide their emotions on Saturday night.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, they are probably a 12 or 13," Street said.

It's just another part of a perfect script for an NHL debut.

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