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30-year-old Matt Anderson to make NHL debut tonight

Jan 29, 2013, 3:32 PM EDT

Matt Anderson

Matt Anderson’s dream will come true tonight at the TD Garden in Boston.

Anderson, 30, will make his long-awaited NHL debut on Tuesday, skating with Krys Barch and Jacob Josefson on the fourth line for the New Jersey Devils.

“It was pretty surreal,” Anderson told NorthJersey.com about getting summoned to the bigs. “It’s a phone call you always hope that you get.

“You think about it and you think how it would happen and I always said to myself, I’d never expect it. It would be at the least expected time.”

Here’s more on Anderson’s long journey to the NHL:

During his five years at UMass-Amherst, he twice endured season-ending injuries. He had right shoulder surgery during his freshman season of 2002-03 that also caused him to miss the entire 2003-04 season. Then, after he finally returned in 2004-05 to put up seven goals and 13 assists in the first 18 games, he broke his ankle and again missed the rest of the season.

After his college career was over, Anderson signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL in 2007. He signed an AHL deal with Albany in 2010 and a strong 2010-11 season in which he had 23 goals and 32 assists earned him a two-way NHL contract with the Devils the next summer.

Anderson played six full seasons in the AHL before getting the call and while his story is a good one, it’s not entirely original.

Last year, the Florida Panthers called up 30-year-old Bracken Kearns in late October for his NHL debut against Buffalo. Kearns went on to appear in five games for the Panthers.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the oldest player to ever make his NHL debut was defenseman Connie Madigan. He spent almost two full decades playing in the minors before the St. Louis Blues called him up during the 1972-73 season — when Madigan was 38 years old.

(Image courtesy Albany Devils)

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