College foursome get first hand look at Flames

A baseball player holding a glove
Jan 21, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Sam Bennett (93) skates during the warmup period against the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON, MA — It’s not quite the view Jon Gillies is used to. Not even close, in fact.

Alongside Providence College teammates Mark Jankowski and John Gilmour and Boston University’s Brandon Hickey, Gillies got an up close and personal look at the Calgary Flames from the press box in Thursday’s 4-3 shootout win against the Boston Bruins.

“It’s pretty cool to see the game from up here,” said Gillies, who was drafted by the Flames in the third round (No. 75) in the 2012 NHL Draft. “I don’t really know how to describe it. I’ve been to this rink a lot but never in this setting and never with the cool guest pass like this. It’s a pretty cool experience. Definitely my first time doing anything like this.”

The foursome was invited by the Flames to take in some action at TD Garden.

It was a first for Calgary’s top pick (No. 21) in 2012, too.

“It’s awesome,” Jankowski said. “It’s the first time seeing them life since I’ve been drafted by them so it’s really cool to sit up here in the press box with all the guys and Brandon Hickey too. It’s been a really cool experience.

“It’s definitely different up here. We’re pretty high up. You can see everything starting to materialize quicker with this view up here. You see the whole ice. It’s definitely different. It’s pretty cool from up here.”

Chalk it up as a first for the other teammate, too.

“It’s my first time seeing them live,” Gilmour said. “I’ve definitely watched them on TV and on the Internet. It’s definitely cool to see what it’s like to see the Flames in person.”

Added Hickey, a mainstay on BU’s blue line: “It’s pretty cool. I’ve never been to the press box before. It’s a new experience for me. It’s pretty cool seeing the game from up here. It’s way different from being on the ice. It looks a little slower but when you get down there you know the speed is still the same. It’s a fast game.”

The game is for fun.

But the four students couldn’t help but take it in as a learning experience, too.

“Obviously I’m here to have a good time and watch the Flames so that’s the enjoyment part,” Jankowski said. “It’s a big part. I’m also watching certain players and see how they’re doing and seeing how everything works in the system. That’s part of the player and coach in me, I guess, and seeing how things go.”

From up top, Gilmour’s keying in on different facets of the game.

“I’m definitely looking at it from both ends,” he said. “It’s entertainment watching NHL hockey. I’m also trying to learn from the D on both sides, see how they play the game at this level. It’s definitely a learning experience.

“It’s definitely slower way up here but it’s also nice to slow it down up here to watch.”

The goaltender, though, is all education from 100 feet in the air.

“From up here you can really see everything, see how goalies handle different situations positionally, like if they retreat fast on a rush,” Gillies said. “It’s easy to see all that from up here because you get to see the play development, where they go with it and see the decision-making process.

“It’s cool to watch guys that are the best in the world at what they do and try to nitpick different things from their game, take the details and try to incorporate that into mine.

“Overall, it’s a cool experience.”

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