WILMINGTON — When David Warsofsky was growing up in Marshfield, he dreamed of playing in the National Hockey League.
He played at professional venues such as TD Garden during his three years at Boston University, but suiting up in the best league in the world took some time.
After almost three seasons in the American Hockey League, the fleet-footed defenseman made his NHL debut for the Bruins Thursday night in Buffalo.
He logged 12 minutes, 29 seconds of ice time over 14 shifts and was credited with a blocked shot in Boston’s 4-2 loss.
“He looked OK,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “I thought as the game went on, he just got more comfortable. He did a good job. He skated the puck up the ice with confidence. I didn’t mind his game at all. I thought for a first game, he handled himself extremely well.’’
Warsofsky, whose parents were in the crowd, said it was a bit of a surreal experience.
“It was awesome,’’ he said. “You can’t really say what it’s going to feel like until it actually happens. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it but the emotions were kind of running high. Once the first period got over, I kind of settled down a bit and was able to play my game.’’
With the Bruins dealing with a number of injuries, prospects have been rewarded this season for their efforts in the minors.
“Three years in reality sounds like a long time but in hockey, it goes by so quick,’’ said Warsofsky. “It was good for me to mature down there and improve my game. At the same time, it’s good to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel that no matter how long I’m up here for, that there is an opportunity for me here and a position if I earn it.’’
One factor that made Warsofsky’s transition go fairly smoothly was that Providence and Boston play virtually the same system.
As happy as he was to play in the NHL, Warsofsky said it was extra special putting on a spoked-B sweater.
“Especially being from Boston and wanting to play for the Bruins my whole life, that aspect kind of added a little bit more,’’ said Warsofsky. “It wasn’t just my first NHL game, it was my first NHL game with the team I’ve always wanted to play for. I don’t know if many kids get to say that but it was an exciting night.’’
When asked if he might have benefited more from staying at BU for his senior season, Warsofsky said he wouldn’t change his decision.
“I thought after my third year, I was ready to go,’’ said Warsofsky. “Looking back on it, you always wish you could’ve maybe taken a year back but I don’t regret it in any way. I’m happy with the decision I made. For me, it was the right decision. Hopefully it will work out for me.’’
One other goal Warsofsky has is finishing his undergraduate degree at BU. He is just two credits short.
“I’ve been working every summer to do it,’’ said Warsofsky. “I’ve got to make my parents happy. That was the deal, if I left early I had to get my degree, so hopefully this summer I’ll finish it up.’’
Shawn Thornton’s appeal heard
Forward Shawn Thornton, currently serving a 15-game suspension for his attack on Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik Dec. 7, had his appeal hearing with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in New York on Friday.
According to the NHL media relations department, a decision is not expected for at least a couple of days.
Adam McQuaid close to return
Defenseman Adam McQuaid skated again with the team and is inching closer to a return from a lower-body injury.
“When I’m ready, I’ll be ready,’’ said McQuaid. “Hopefully that is sooner rather than later. I felt good again today, I felt better. It’s not like I have a set date or anything like that. Every day I’m trying to push and see how I feel. It’s been good. I’m happy with where I’m at right now. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.’’
It’s possible McQuaid could play Saturday night in the Bruins’ rematch with the Sabres at TD Garden.
“He’s getting pretty close,’’ said Julien. “Honestly, it’s a matter of game to game.’’
When asked if a return Saturday was in the cards, Julien said, “I don’t know yet but I wouldn’t write him off.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.