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New Flames prospect Hanowski set for NHL debut

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- Ben Hanowski's college career came to an end on Thursday night after St. Cloud was eliminated in the Frozen Four semifinal by Quinnipiac.

His professional career starts Monday as a member of the Calgary Flames.

Signed to a two-year, two-way contract on Friday, Hanowski is set to debut for the Flames against the Minnesota Wild at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.

"I enjoyed my four years at St. Cloud," he said. "It was a great four years for me. I'm excited to be here. I'm excited to start a new journey and start my pro career."

Hanowski won't wait long. Arriving in Calgary less than 24 hours ago doesn't leave a lot of time to digest the experience.

That doesn't bother Hanowski.

"Getting thrown right in there, it'll be fun," he said. "I just got in yesterday and I'm playing tonight so it's exciting for me. Growing up, this is what you always dream of, playing a game in the NHL and I'm going to get to do that tonight."

Making it that much sweeter is the opposition.

A product of Little Falls, MN, Hanowski is excited to mark his first game against his favorite club.

"It just adds a little bit, a cherry on top getting into your first game against the team you grew up cheering for," he said. "It'll be fun to be out there. Playing Minnesota just makes it that much sweeter than it would've been anyways."

But Hanowski has had little time to prepare for his debut against the Wild. The 22-year-old has had one video session and a short game-day skate to get acquainted to his new teammates and coaching staff.

Because of that, Hanowski's game plan heading into his first professional game is easy.

"I'm just going to try to bring some energy and work hard and keep the game simple," he said. "Manage the puck, get pucks in when I can and get them out of our zone and play with as much energy as I can and contribute any way."

It's what Calgary coach Bob Hartley expects from the 6-foot-2, 198-pound forward.

"We want him to get his feet wet, but we understand his situation," Hartley said. "He didn't get any training camp with us or anything so everything is new, for Ben and at the same time for us. We're going to ease him in. There's no pressure. I told him, 'Just be yourself, bring us your best game,' and we'll go from there."

Mike Cammalleri - Roman Horak - Ben Hanowski

Jiri Hudler - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak

Curtis Glencross - Maxwell Reinhart - Sven Baertschi

Roman Cervenka - Steve Begin - Tim Jackman

Dennis Wideman - Mark Giordano

TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Chris Butler - Brett Carson

Joey MacDonald

Miikka Kiprusoff

Scratched: Anton Babchuk

Injured: Derek Smith (knee), Brian McGrattan (shoulder), Alex Tanguay (knee), Matt Stajan (upper body)

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