|Ottawa 67's centre Shane Prince gets his chance to step up the big time tonight at Scotiabank Place, suiting up for his first Senators pre-sesaon game against the Boston Bruins (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).
Just three years ago, he rushed excitedly to Scotiabank Place to slip on an Ottawa Senators jersey for the first time.
While he'll surely never forget the day the Senators made him a fifth-round pick (139th overall) at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, 22-year-old Mark Borowiecki has likely never felt quite like this. Tonight, in the very arena in which he grew up watching his favourite National Hockey League team — it's just minutes from his Kanata home — he'li get to bask in that spotlight once again.
"I'm pretty excited," Borowiecki said with a wide grin earlier today as he talked about making his NHL pre-season debut against the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). "I've got to get the nerves out a little bit. The pre-game skate, I was a little bit jittery, but that's to be expected in this situation for me.
"It's only my first game here so, hopefully, I can have a strong showing and make a good impression."
It's the lastest step in a rapid ascent for Borowiecki, a 6-1, 198-pound bruiser with a penchant for physical play. This time just a year ago, he was entering he sophomore season at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. But after leaving school early to turn pro in the spring, Borowiecki has already earned a Calder Cup ring with the Binghamton Senators. And now this.
"You've always got to believe in yourself," he said when asked if getting an NHL opportunity was happen this quickly for him. "You're never going to say 'I'm not going to make it there.' But it's definitely a little bit surreal and I'm going to try to make the most of it today."
Needless to say, he'll have plenty of support in the stands this evening.
"I've got a bunch of buddies from school (coming), a bunch of buddies from home, my family," he said. "I probably couldn't even count them all."
Tonight's home pre-season opener also offers a reward of sorts for Shane Prince
, the Ottawa 67's centre chosen in the second round (61st overall) of the 2011 NHL draft. He was one of the standouts of last week's rookie tournament in Oshawa, Ont., leading the Senators in scoring with six points (all assists).
"I thought he was one of the outstanding players at the rookie camp," Senators head coach Paul MacLean said a day after the Senators released five players back to their junior teams, but chose to keep the 18-year-old Prince on hand. "The whole idea is, if you come here and play well, you should get rewarded and get another opportunity. That's why he's getting to play tonight."
For his part, Prince is thrilled to get the chance to test the NHL waters for the first time.
"It's exciting and a god experience to be recognized like that," said the native of Spencerport, N.Y., just outside Rochester. "I can't be more excited to play tonight and I'm going to play my best."
Scotiabank Place isn't entirely unfamiliar to him — Prince suited up for a playoff game with the 67's against the Niagara IceDogs two years ago. But clearly, this one's a notch above that.
"To be out there against the Stanley Cup champs and to play my first NHL pre-season game ... it's exciting," he said.Around the boardsCraig Anderson
gets the start in goal tonight and will split netminding duties against the Bruins with Alex Auld
. Expect the former's workload to intensify as the pre-season progesses, with his first full game coming either Friday at home against the Canadiens (7:30 p.m., Rogers TV, Team 1200) or Saturday in Montreal (7 p.m., RDS, Team 1200). "I'm not sure if it's going to be Friday night or Saturday," said MacLean. "Probably one of those two nights, he'll play a full game and he'll probably play at least one more full game before the exhibition season ends, if not two" ... Captain Daniel Alfredsson
, Jason Spezza
, Milan Michalek
, Erik Karlsson
and Filip Kuba
aren't dressing tonight ... Young defence hopeful Jared Cowen
is being paired with veteran Sergei Gonchar
on the blue line. "It's an experiment going into tonight's game and I'm interested to see if anything can develop for the two of them," said MacLean ... Expect the next round of camp cuts to come after the Saturday game in Montreal ... MacLean indicated Gatineau Olympiques centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau
will see at least one game during the pre-season.