By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON Tyler Randell remembers the burst of adrenaline, energy and, yes, even a healthy case of nerves prior to last years Bruins rookie games against the New York Islanders at a packed TD Garden.
The gritty Randell helped pop in a quick goal with Ryan Spooner and Max Sauve in their first taste of exhibition hockey in an NHL rink, and that helped ease the nervous of a young hockey player living out his lifelong dream for the first time.
You go out there and get the puck deep, take the body and get a little mean out there, said Randell. If somebody comes after me I definitely wont hesitate to drop the gloves. Ill play my game, take the puck hard to the net and be strong on the puck.
The two games in Boston last year were two of the craziest Ive ever played in. It was a great atmosphere. Its always great to play in an NHL rink, wear the Bruins crest and give it everything Ive got.
That kind of thing is music to the Bruins ears.
Its that exact experience in the ultimate NHL dress rehearsal for a young hockey prospect thats on tap for Monday and Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum against the very same New York Islanders. For some like Randell, Spooner, Knight and goalie Michael Hutchinson, itll be a continuation of the rookie games they took part in last season and a nice way to prepare for veteran training camp.
For others like 2011 draft picks Dougie Hamilton, Alexander Khokhlachev and Anthony Camara, its their first introduction to the NHL world that stands only a rung or two away as they climb up the pro hockey career ladder. Hamilton has skated competitively at Scotiabank Place and the Air Canada Centre prior to the upcoming exhibition games, but getting the NHL juices flowing is a whole different experience.
Ill definitely get a few jitters and maybe do some running around on the first shift," Camara said. "But after that Ill settle down and get back into my game. My first game in the OHL was kind of like that. I was getting a little antsy and maybe tied my skates up a little too tight. Im just taking everything day by day and trying to make a steady progression while working on my skills.
For talent evaluators like Bs assistant general manager Jim Benning it gives the Bruins an opportunity to see their prospects in game situations, and hopefully witness their particular skills rise to the forefront. Last season Jordan Caron and Spooner had two excellent efforts against the Isles in the rookie games and wound up sticking with the team to the very end of training camp and Caron cracked the opening night roster in the Premiere Games against the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague.
So Benning and Co. will notice who flashes on the ice, and who tied their skates up a little too tight. Observers are likely to see players like Spooner and Knight make things happen offensively on the ice while tougher hombres like Randell and Camara might just drop the gloves once or twice in defense of their teammates with everybody looking to make a good impression.
I think you learn a lot. You learn what their make up is and how hard theyre going to compete in a game situation when the pressure is on them. What are they made of? said Benning. The skill guys . . . are they going to create plays or are they going to create scoring chances. Usually what happens when they play under pressure is that their skill or their toughness -- or whatever theyre here to show -- should come to the top.
Thats what were hoping to see from all the guys. All their different skill sets and toughness. We have some physical defensemen, we got some defensemen that can skate and handle the puck. We have skilled forwards, but yet on the other side we got some big strong guys that hit and are going to look after their teammates. So it should be interesting. Im looking forward to see how they perform as a group.
One thing remains beyond the adrenaline and nerves: Potential invites to regular training camp will be on the line for each and every player on the Bs rookie camp roster.
That in and of itself should guarantee every last player saves their best for The Island.