On the heels of a beating at the hands of the Providence Bruins, Greg Nemisz got the call he always dreamed of.
The Calgary Flames wanted him to join them in time for Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Blues, in case ill forward Niklas Hagman couldn’t play.
“I was just driving home from the rink. We just had a team meeting because we got beat pretty bad the night before,” said Nemisz, who was sent back to Abbotsford after Sunday’s game. “It came as a bit of a surprise, but it was amazing.
“It’s a weird feeling. You’re so excited and happy. I think I called my dad right away.”
His dad couldn’t offer up much in the way of advice.
“I don’t think he could really talk — he was so happy,” Nemisz said with a smile. “He didn’t say much. He just said he was proud of me.”
Although his NHL debut will have to wait, with Hagman suiting up against the Blues and with Nemisz sent back down to Abbotsford following the Blues game, the 20-year-old has plenty to be proud of.
With 13 goals and 27 points in 59 games with the Abbotsford Heat, the Flames’ first-round pick from the 2008 draft is proving to be a valuable asset on the farm.
“I’ve had the opportunity to watch him play a couple of games,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “And Jimmy (Playfair, Abbotsford Heat head coach) has been really happy with his play.”
Despite the fact Nemisz won two Memorial Cups with the WHL Windsor Spitfires, some have questioned the 6-foot-3, 197-pounder’s skating ability and strength.
But he’s come a long way from the full-faced kid who heard his name called out 25th overall by the Flames in Ottawa almost three years ago.
He’s grown stronger in stride and in body and sees this coming summer as the most important yet in his development.
“I’ve developed into a professional hockey player,” Nemisz said. “You’ve got to learn the pro game, the speed of it and stuff like that. Up here’s another level.
“Right now, I feel pretty confident with my size and my strength and my speed.”