|In his first full season of pro hockey, Kanata native Mark Borowiecki is playing top-two minutes on the Binghamton Senators blue line. The B-Sens head to Ottawa on Sunday to face off against the Hamilton Bulldogs in their annual game at Scotiabank Place (Just Sports Photography).
One more time, Mark Borowiecki eagerly awaits the chance to perform on the big stage at Scotiabank Place.
And when the Kanata native suits up for the Binghamton Senators on Sunday afternoon against the Hamilton Bulldogs, he'll do so as a prime-time performer on the B-Sens blue line. All of which offers further evidence of the 22-year-old's rapid ascent in the Ottawa organization.
"Things have moved pretty quickly for me," admitted Borowiecki, who was playing his junior season at Clarkson University just a year ago. "Not just the coaches down here, but the organization as a whole has shown a lot of confidence in me. They've given me a great opportunity and put me in a position to compete.
"It's going pretty well now and, hopefully, I can take it that much further."
Actually, it's probably rolling along better than anyone expected with the B-Sens, where Borowiecki is logging major minutes on the team's No. 1 defence pair alongside American Hockey League veteran Tim Conboy. It's certainly not the scenario head coach Kurt Kleinendorst had in mind when the season began, even if Borowiecki's role grew in importance during the B-Sens' Calder Cup playoff run last spring.
"(Borowiecki) and Conboy have been our two steadiest defencemen, without a doubt," said Kleinendorst, who expected Borowiecki to be "a five or six" on the Binghamton defence chart. "And so with that, we match him up against the other team's top lines ... I never thought we were going to have to use him that way but you know what, it's been a blessing for him.
"More than likely, if we weren't made up the way were made up, I probably wouldn't have put him in that position. But we didn't have that choice and I'll tell you, I have to give him a lot of credit. He's stepped right up and he's been really good."
On a very young B-Sens team, Borowiecki surely appreciates the opportunity — and the trust that goes along with it — that he's being handed in his first full season of pro hockey.
"I know I'm not entitled to anything, but I went in there hoping I'd be able to have a role like that," said Borowiecki, a fifth-round pick (139th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. "I had some great experience in the playoffs last year and I've been pretty fortunate to step in."
Now Borowiecki, who saw five games worth of duty for the big club during the pre-season, returns to Scotiabank Place to give his friends and family a glimpse at how far he's come in such a short period of time.
"I've definitely had that one marked on my calendar for awhile," Borowiecki said of Sunday's 1 p.m. matchup against the Bulldogs. "I've got a lot of buddies coming and my family's got a suite for all my close family members. Coming back to play in your hometown is always fun.
"My buddies try to follow me when I'm down (in Binghamton), but they don't really get to see the American Hockey League play a lot. So going up there and getting a chance to play is awesome."
Tickets for Sunday's game start at $12 and are available at www.capitaltickets.ca.