|Ottawa native Mark Borowiecki has joined the Senators for their trip to New York for Game 7 against the Rangers (Photo by Matthew Healy/OSHC).
For Mark Borowiecki, it's a bit of a familiar tale — but with a much more exciting twist.
When the Ottawa Senators headed off to New York on Wednesday for their Game 7 date with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, they brought the 22-year-old Ottawa native along for the ride. And whether he sees the ice or not, Borowiecki plans to soak up the experience for all it's worth.
"It's pretty cool," he said of the atmosphere he'll be a part of on Thursday night (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). "It's what every hockey player strives for, to play in a situation like that. Regardless of whether I'm in or not, I'm going to enjoy it. But I'm going to go in there prepared (to play)."
Borowiecki was among the 'Black Aces' practice group summoned from the Binghamton Senators after their American Hockey League season ended. But he got the call on Wednesday to join the big club for its final practice at Scotiabank Place before they made the trip to New York.
"He's an option available to us," Senators head coach Paul MacLean said when asked if Borowiecki might see action in Game 7. "But with Matt (Carkner) not on the ice, we wanted to make sure we had enough defencemen to run practice."
Carkner took a "maintenance" day off practice, but travelled with the team to New York.
As for Borowiecki, he's been through this sort of thing before. Last season, he was finishing up some classes at Clarkson (N.Y.) University when the B-Sens — ravaged by injuries on their blue line — brought him in to help fill the void. The 6-1, 185-pound defenceman wound up seeing 21 games worth of duty and played a key role in Binghamton's drive to the Calder Cup crown.
"I guess I went through it in the AHL last year and now I'm going through it again this year," said Borowiecki, a fifth-round pick (139th overall) by the Senators in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. "I think the way to approach it is to prepare yourself and be a good pro. You never know."
Unlike forwards Mark Stone and Jakob Silfverberg — both of whom made their National Hockey League debuts during this series — Borowiecki suited up twice for the Senators during the regular season. So this stage isn't entirely new to him.
While Binghamton missed the playoffs, the season wasn't without its benefits for Borowiecki, who was named the team's rookie of the year after a campaign in which he totalled 22 points, including five points, and posted an even plus-minus rating and racked up 127 penalty minutes. It was another step toward his goal of landing full-time duty in Ottawa someday soon.
"Being through a situation like that, a tough year ... you've always got to take something out of it," he said. "That just taught me to keep on working, regardless of (the situation). Even though it was a bad year, you've got to approach it the same way every day."
"We definitely struggled, but the coaches showed a lot of confidence in me and I got put into a lot of (situations). I got a chance to develop and I'm pretty thankful for what they did for me down there."