A chance for some of his mom's home cooking is just a side benefit to Ben Street's decision to head west.
The centre also felt by inking a deal with the Calgary Flames, who assigned him to the Abbotsford Heat to start the 2012-13 season, he had a closer shot at his dream of playing in the NHL, after two years in the Pittsburgh Penguins farm system.
"I was further away when I was 16 in Salmon Arm," said Street of his current address. "(My parents) just come out over the bridge and a little ways out - I think they've been to every game so far. It's been great for my family, and if there's a day off I can boot it home and have a home cooked meal from Mom that's pretty nice, too."
Things change fast in pro hockey circles, especially when a 16-hour negotiation meeting breaks a stalemate and ends a 113-day long NHL lockout.
While Street has been mentioned in newspaper reports as among a handful of Abbotsford players expected to be invited to Calgary's camp this weekend, as of Thursday nothing was announced.
But there's a serious chance, considering Street leads the Heat in scoring with nine goals and 16 assists in 34 games, that the one-time Coquitlam minor hockey product could be in line for an NHL debut soon.
"It's been a bit of an adjustment coming from the Pittsburgh to Calgary (system) in terms of the way they play," he noted. "Early on there was a bit of an adjustment and learning curve and there are a lot of things I'm learning. There's been a lot of video, learning what to do, so that if the NHL comes calling and guys go up we know exactly what to do."
Last Friday, the Heat fired 50 shots at the Rochester net but could only tally twice in a 5-2 loss. A day later, Street was the sparkplug in Abbotsford's bounce-back 3-1 victory, scoring twice and assisting on the other goal.
When it comes to shots, he is setting the pace not just for the Heat, but also the American Hockey League. The 25-year-old directed 10 on net over the weekend to give him 139 over 34 games - 15 more than his nearest rival. He's taken good natured ribbing from teammates over his league-leading status, but notes it isn't his focus just to fire pucks at the net.
"A few of the guys have let me know," Street said with a grin. "I'm a shoot-first guy for sure but it's not like I'm just shooting absolutely everything. If the shot is there I'll take it, but if it's not, I'll try and make a play. The coach told us earlier in the year he wanted us to shoot more pucks so I'm shooting as many as I can."
The lockout resulted in some young NHLers
being inserted into AHL lineups, like Columbus' Ryan Johansen and Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. That has provided players like Street a chance to measure themselves in a tougher climate. And it's something that the Abbotsford centre has enjoyed.
"There are definitely some premiere players here and it's fun for a guy like myself who is trying to prove myself and I'd like to be trying to do that at the next level."
Last year was his first full season in the AHL, after a meteoric pro debut in 201011 - where he was named the ECHL's top rookie despite playing just over half a season - and onto the Penguins' top farm team. He tallied 27 goals and 30 assists over 71 games but saw Pittsburgh's depth at centre - which features names like Crosby, Malkin and Sutter down the middle - as a tough nut to crack.
Starting fresh with a Flames organization in transition was too attractive to turn down.
It also meant that if he didn't crack Calgary's lineup, he would be anchored closer to his hometown.
"Growing up in Coquitlam was great - I can still remember when they rolled the fire hoses out. I think my dad helped coach and I still keep in touch with some of the guys I knew when I was five or six years old," he said. "We were always skating at the tiny rink at Poirier, it seemed huge at the time. I really enjoyed it. I was lucky to have good coaches, [and] we had a lot of good players too."
While his route to the pro ranks - which included the B.C. Hockey League, four years and a national championship at the University of Wisconsin, and then inking a free agent deal in the ECHL - wasn't the easiest to follow on a map, it added up to some rich experiences along the way.
While not drafted into the NHL was a disappointment, his emergence as a prospect demonstrates that sometimes the road less travelled is the best route.
"It's a bit discouraging when you don't get drafted - growing up as a kid one of the goals you set when you're four years old is that NHL draft moment. It was the dream but for whatever reason I wasn't drafted," said Street.
"Immediately you're disappointed and you kind of think to yourself you've got something to prove. By no means was hockey over, so it was a bit of a different path for me, but I wouldn't really change it."
The next change could be the chance of a lifetime, and one he's determined to make good on.
"Things are faster, guys are bigger at the NHL level so I just have to make sure my execution is perfect. If I get the opportunity I'll only get a couple of chances so I have to make the most of them," said Street.
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