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Calgary Flames speedster Andrew Mangiapane has finally moved into a place of his own.
He finally has a space to hone another skill-set.
“It’s nice to have a kitchen,” he said. “I’m big on cooking.”
There you have it … In addition to being handy with a puck on his blade, the 23-year-old left-winger is apparently proficient with pots and pans, too.
“Decent, I’d say. Living on your own in Stockton, you’re kind of forced to,” said Mangiapane, grinning as he prepared to fire a friendly barb at his minor-league roommate, current teammate and close buddy Rasmus Andersson. “And I was taking care of Razzy at the time too, so I was cooking for two, making sure he was fed so he could play his best.”
Andersson has climbed the ranks with Mangiapane, dating back to their days with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, and the defenceman confirmed his pal has a strong culinary game.
“He’s a good chef,” Andersson nodded. “He did most of the cooking when we lived together — some good Italian ingredients. I think he enjoys it too, so it’s good.”
To receive the green-light from team brass to check out of the hotel and find permanent accommodations is a milestone-of-sorts for any youngster, and Mangiapane settled into his new digs in late October. (He moved in the day before the squad headed out on a season-long five-game road-trip, so unpacking had to wait a while.)
More importantly, No. 88 is starting to look right at home on the Flames’ second line.
Head coach Bill Peters has been searching for the ideal ingredient to complement centre Mikael Backlund and one-of-a-kind winger Matthew Tkachuk on that trio, and Mangiapane is making the most of his latest audition in that role.
“Mangy has a lot of tenacity to him and he plays with a lot of pace,” Peters praised after Tuesday’s practice at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre. “I think they’ve been very dangerous offensively, and I think he’s been a big part of that.
“He’s hanging onto pucks. He’s not forcing plays. Usually when you play with guys that are more established than you, you’re just thinking about giving them the puck all the time. But he’s not afraid to hang onto it. On a two-on-one, he doesn’t have to defer and pass every time. If the right play is to make the pass, he will. But if he needs to keep it and attack the net himself, he will.”
The Flames, now at the quarter-mark of their regular-season slate, would like somebody to hang on to this top-six slot.
Michael Frolik was once a fixture on the second unit, but he’s bounced around the lineup this fall and was a healthy scratch for the past two games. He’s expected to return to action as a third-liner for Wednesday’s date with the Dallas Stars at the Saddledome (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet One/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).
Although there were high hopes for Sam Bennett, undoubtedly Calgary’s best skater during their first-round playoff flop last spring, he hasn’t capitalized on his opportunities to win this job.
Austin Czarnik, a rare right-hander on a roster that is stocked with southpaws, was working briefly with Backlund and Tkachuk before suffering a lower-body injury.
This is Mangiapane’s second crack at it, the biggest difference being that he is now on the left flank and Tkachuk has shifted to his off-wing.
So far, so good.
During Saturday’s third-period comeback against the St. Louis Blues, Mangiapane hustled to retrieve Backlund’s dump-in and then put a crisp pass on Tkachuk’s tape in the slot to set up the Flames’ first goal of the night. They would eventually lose 3-2 in overtime.
“He’s not the biggest guy out there, but he plays big,” Tkachuk said of Mangiapane, who is listed at 5-foot-10 and 184 lb. “He always gets in on the puck first. It seems like he has the puck a ton. So for him to be at his size and be as tenacious as he is and to hound pucks and create a ton of offence … And he’s only getting better, I think.”
That’s because Mangiapane, with three goals and seven points so far this season, is feeling more and more comfy in this second-line spotlight.
“I would have liked to bury a couple more chances I had, but that will come,” he said. “It’s just building chemistry. They’re two great players, so just have to figure out their techniques and things they like to do. You learn what their tendencies are, where they want the puck, their wheelhouse … That comes with just playing with them.
“I’m just trying to focus on playing my game, though — be tenacious on the puck, forecheck. I know Chucky likes to use down low, use the cycle game, and Backs is such a smart two-way guy. So I think it’s a good line and I’m just happy and trying to build off it.”
Perhaps, as he continues to cook up chemistry with Nos. 11 and 19, he could have the boys over for a home-cooked dinner at his new pad.
What’s his specialty in the kitchen?
“Probably the chicken parm — a good Italian meal,” Mangiapane replied. “That would be my go-to, I’d say.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019