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Door open for Borowiecki to make biggest leap yet

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Kanata native Mark Borowiecki, one of 35 prospects on hand this week at Senators development camp, is working hard to earn a shot at a spot on the team's blue line next season. The camp runs through next Monday at the Bell Sensplex (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).

His draft year suggests it's been a rather lengthy trek to reach this point.

But truth be told, Mark Borowiecki is a young man in a hurry. With a little more than a full season of pro hockey under his belt, the Kanata native suddenly finds himself in prime position to land a job on the Ottawa Senators blue line.

And he intends to do his level best to seize upon the opportunity now in front of him.

"You've got to make the most of it and you can't let that pass by," Borowiecki said of the chance he'll be afforded in training camp this fall, with veteran Filip Kuba likely to leave the fold via free agency. "This game is kind of a game of opportunities, especially for a young guy coming in. You're going to get that chance and you've got to make the most of it."

A fifth-round pick (139th overall) by the Senators in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Borowiecki admits he didn't expect to be anywhere near here this soon. He headed off to Clarkson University later that fall, fully believing he'd spend four years with the Golden Knights in Potsdam, N.Y. However, the 22-year-old blueliner left school a year ago, joining the Binghamton Senators just in time to play a key role in their march to the American Hockey League's Calder Cup crown in 2011.

Then back on Jan. 19, Borowiecki made his National Hockey League debut in San Jose against the Sharks and also saw action against the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings four nights later. The experience was a true eye-opener for him.

"You hear it all the time, that the jump to the NHL from the American league is huge," said Borowiecki, a gritty blue-line mainstay for the B-Sens in 2011-12 who produced five goals and 22 points in 73 games while totalling 127 penalty minutes. "I've seen things I need to work on, like my quickness and decision making ... it kind of gives me that leg up for the summer."

In some ways, Borowiecki will tell you, this has been a bit of a whirlwind for him.

"I expected to play four years in college," he said. "To me, this was supposed to be my first year of pro (hockey). I'm pretty thankful for the opportunity I've had. They've showed a lot of confidence in me and I'm going to try to make the most of it now."

Senators hockey management doesn't doubt for a minute that he'll do exactly that.

"He's got to play like Mark Borowiecki," Randy Lee, the Senators' director of hockey operations and player development, said at the Bell Sensplex following today's first on-ice session at the team's annual development camp. "He's one of the hardest-working guys out here, there's no question. He's got to come to camp and play confident and play like himself."

Already, Borowiecki — who's taking part in his fifth Sens development camp — is pushing himself hard in that direction, spending plenty of hours at Scotiabank Place working out under the supervision of conditioning coach Chris Schwarz.

"You're in here every day working hard and Schwarzy's great with me," said Borowiecki. "He helps me out a ton. I'm going to work hard this summer. It's like the closer you get, the more you want it. I'm going to come in here every day and work as hard as I can and, hopefully, show in camp that I'm ready."

Even though that opportunity looms larger every day, Borowiecki tries to keep everything in perspective. But he sounds like a man ready to make the biggest leap of them all.

"Obviously, you're thinking about it, but I try not to think about it too much," he said. "You've just got to come in and approach every day the same way. But I think it's time. I'm ready to prove I'm an NHL defenceman and I want to come into camp, have a strong camp and show that."

On-ice sessions at development camp, which are open to the public, resume Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

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