Marquette native Justin Florek made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon after being called up on an emergency basis just hours before the the start of the franchise's 1 p.m. game against the Winnipeg Jets at the TD Garden in Boston.
Wearing No. 57 in the Bruins 4-1 victory, the 23-year-old former Northern Michigan University captain finished with one shot on goal, no penalty minutes and with an even plus/minus rating in 10 minutes and 14 seconds of action.
"After I got rid of those first-game jitters, I think it went pretty well," said Florek while driving back to Providence for the Providence Bruin's AHL game at 3:05 p.m. today. "The first period I was really nervous out there, but once I settled down, I just played my game and it went pretty well."
Boston Bruins forward Justin Florek (57) of Marquette skates against Winnipeg Jets' Olli Jokinen (12) in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. Florek, a former Northern Michigan University captain, made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon after being called up on an emergency basis just hours before the the start of the franchise’s 1 p.m. game. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
With Marquette native Justin Florek (57) trailing, Boston Bruins' Gregory Campbell (11) and Winnipeg Jets' Mark Stuart (5) battle for the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. Florek, a former Northern Michigan University captain, made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon after being called up on an emergency basis just hours before the the start of the franchise’s 1 p.m. game. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Florek started his NHL debut with a minus-1 rating when his line gave up the Jets' lone goal by Dustin Byfuglien 10:54 into the first period.
He then pulled even by screening Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec on the eventual game-winning slap shot by Bruins defenseman Torey Krug at 3:08 of the second period.
"It was just a down-low play, going to the net," Florek said, breaking down the goal by the former Michigan State Spartan. "It's what I like to say is my bread and butter, just standing in front of the net, screening. I gave (Krug) a lane to shoot the puck and that's what he does best. It was just great to be out there for it."
Northern Michigan University Wildcats in the NHL:
- Mike Santorelli, Vancouver Canucks
- Erik Gustafsson, Philadelphia Flyers
According to Hockey-Reference.com's database of Michigan-born NHL players going back to 1920, hockeydb.com's database of players going back to 1909 and Tim McIntosh of the Marquette Junior Hockey Corporation, Florek is the first Marquette native to ever play in the NHL.
The former Marquette Electrician Midget and American Legion Bantam received his first NHL call up from the Bruins' AHL club in Providence early Saturday morning after Boston fourth-line forward Jordan Caron was ruled out with a back injury.
Florek said he was still in bed at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday when the call came to get to Boston.
"I take a lot of pride in where I'm from - the U.P. and Marquette," Florek said. "To be the first coming out of Marquette is a great honor because there have been so many great players before me that came through."
In 34 games with the Providence Bruins this season, Florek has nine goals and 11 assists. His plus-11 rating is second on the AHL club. In 113 career AHL games, he has 22 goals and 29 assists with a plus-26 rating.
Florek was selected by the Boston Bruins in the fifth round, No. 135 overall, of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He signed with the Bruins in the spring of 2012 after four seasons with the Wildcats (2008-2012) and two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program (2006-2008) in Ann Arbor.