One step closer
Emilio Pettersen has taken the next step in his career, inking an entry-level deal with the Calgary Flames
One step closer.
Emilio Pettersen is finally seeing his childhood dream become a reality after signing a three-year entry-level contract with the Flames on April 27.
The goal of playing in the National Hockey League is within reach, and the cherry on top of it all is the fact that he gets to experience it all with the team he grew up idolizing.
“This is something I’ve worked toward my entire life,” Pettersen said. “My parents have sacrificed a lot for me to get here, and it truly is a special feeling to share this moment with them and everyone who has supported me along the way.
“You always imagine playing in the NHL as a kid. It’s amazing looking back on getting here from being that little kid from Norway, to moving to North America at 14, to now putting pen to paper—it’s all so surreal.
“I’m ecstatic to start this new journey and prove myself.”
The 20-year-old was drafted in the sixth round, 167th overall, in the 2018 NHL draft by the Flames and has spent the past two seasons with the University of Denver in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The skilled forward had quite the college career, ending with 65 points (19G, 46A) in 76 tilts, which was highlighted by being nearly a point-a-game player this past season with 35 points (13G, 22A) in 36 games.
He was also named to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Academic All-Conference Team in back-to-back seasons, while earning an NCHC Second Team All-Star nod for the 2019-20 season.
“These past two years were a great experience, and I owe a lot of my time in Denver for getting me here,” he said. “With all the support I had in my great teammates and the great coaches that pushed me to be better and helped improve my game.
“I was very fortunate to be on a strong team. Last year as a freshman, I didn’t have expectations as I went in and worked my tail off to prove that I could be in the lineup. That gave me a lot of confidence in myself, and once I found a rhythm, my game took off, and I never looked back after that.
“You always put team success first, but it was amazing to get the recognition for all the hard work I put in. To get the honors I did while playing in a Denver sweater just made it more special.”
During his time at Flames development camps in past summers, Pettersen put on quite a showing, being a treat to watch each time he had the puck, specifically in 2019 with his tremendous puck skills, vision and speed.
It was an opportunity for him to display all of his strengths, and he took full advantage of it.
“Those camps give you a reality check,” he said. “You go in to prove you are better than the year before while also battling it out against great players from around the globe.
“It’s not easy, but the high level of competition brings out the best of you to take it to another gear, and it gave me that extra bit of swagger for the rest of the year with how I performed.”
There’s no questioning the skills of the Norwegian, who has been keeping busy sticking to workout routines given by his strength and conditioning coach from Denver, working on getting stronger, as he embarks on the transition to the pro game.
“It’s all about getting used to living the pro lifestyle,” Pettersen said. “There’s a lot of work still to be done to not just play as a pro but also have that mentality to go along with it.
“I know I have more to give and haven’t been working on being a bigger threat offensively. I’m confident in my ability to set the play up, but I also want to be that guy known for scoring those big goals and be consistent on a nightly basis.
“It’s going to be a different experience and will have a bit of a transition, but I’m more than ready for it.”
This article is reprinted with the permission of the author and CalgaryFlames.com.
This article originally appeared in the May 22, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.