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Marquette's Florek scores two goals, two assists in pro debut

Florek one of three Wildcats to make pro debut Friday night

March 23, 2012
By MATT WELLENS - Journal Sports Editor ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University senior Justin Florek wasn't planning to play Friday night for the AHL's Providence Bruins after landing in the East coast late Thursday night.

Luckily for the Bruins, a change of heart put the Marquette native into the lineup.

It only took Florek 3 minutes and 54 seconds to record his first professional point, but his night didn't end there as the former Wildcat captain finished with two goals and two assists en route to being named the Bruins' first star in a 5-2 victory over the Machester Monarchs.

Florek, who was drafted in the fifth round, No. 135 overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins, signed an amateur tryout with Providence - Boston's top minor league affiliate - on Friday morning and participated in his first professional practice later that day.

He was credited with an assist on the Bruins' first goal of the night at 3:54 of the first period and he picked up his second assist nine minutes into the second period to put Providence ahead 2-1.

The Bruins went ahead 3-1 on Florek's first career professional goal nearly three minutes later while the Wildcat's second pro goal and fourth pro point came unassisted 16:23 into the third period.

Florek was a late addition to Friday's lineup against the L.A. Kings' top minor league affiliate in Manchester, which features a former teammate of Florek's at NMU in Ray Kaunisto of Sault Ste. Marie.

Kaunisto, who finished minus-1 for the night after his lineup gave up the opening goal, is in his second AHL season after teaming with Florek during the Wildcats' 2009-10 run to the NCAA tournament.

Florek, who finished with a team-high 19 goals, nearly led the Wildcats back to the NCAA tournament this season as captain, but NMU was the last team left out of the field after falling in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.

Two other senior Wildcats made their debuts Friday night as well, including Tyler Gron with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL and Andrew Cherniwchan as a starter with South Carolina Sting Rays of the ECHL.

Cherniwchan finished with both of South Carolina's goals in a 5-2 loss while Gron finished minus-1 in Bridgeport's 3-2 shootout loss.

Both Cherniwchan and Gron signed ATOs on Wednesday, but did not appear that night in their respective team's lineup.

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.



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