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Florek's first 24 hours in the pros full of unexpected twists and turns

April 29, 2012 - Matt Wellens

It sounds cliche when someone says they ‘blacked out’ the rest of the way when telling the tale of a notable accomplishment.

However, when you hear the story of Justin Florek’s first 24 hours in professional hockey, it’s easy to comprehend that the Marquette native and former Northern Michigan University senior captain may have some amnesia when it comes to his pro debut with the Providence Bruins of the AHL.

Florek appeared in eight games with the Bruins. He scored all four points — two goals and two assists — in his first professional game after getting little sleep, even less of an advance playing notice, and with only a sandwich in his belly prior to puck drop.

“I wasn’t expecting on playing,” Florek said. “I flew in Thursday night around midnight, took a taxi to the hotel, got there about 1 (a.m.). I don’t even know when I fell asleep.

“I woke up at the next morning, went to the rink, did the pregame skate. I was tired from the night before. They told me I wasn’t going to play that night, but they wanted to dress me for warmups. That was just to get a feel for the pregame warmups because they thought they might play me that weekend. I ate a sub, just a sub from Subway for a pregame meal because I didn’t expect to play. I didn’t take a long nap like I usually do.

“I showed up and they said, ‘One of the (defenseman) got sick. We’re going to throw you in the lineup if that’s alright.’ So I watched all the systems videos and they put me in there. I got one shift in the first five minutes, happen to get an assist. That really calmed me down, just getting that assist out of the way, the first pro point. After that, I just tell every body I just blacked out. I don’t really remember much.”

I had been in contact with Florek the night before. I was en route to Green Bay for the NCAA Midwest Regional hockey tournament and the last time I talked to Florek, he was still stuck in the Detroit airport — and that was well past 9 p.m. Central time.

So like Florek, I was pretty surprised during Ferris State vs. Denver to see a tweet from @AHLBruins announcing the Wildcat captain was making his pro debut.

While the Bruins ended up missing the playoffs, their fans — and Florek — were treated to one special night.

Senior Wildcats Florek, Cherniwchan, Gron get taste of pros before returning to classroom



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