by Joshua Kummins
WILMINGTON, Mass. — The Boston Bruins are just weeks away from opening defense of their Stanley Cup title at the TD Garden, but the team is giving its newer faces a chance to make an impression during rookie camp this week at Ristuccia Arena.
A group of 22 NHL hopefuls participated in the second day of the week-long camp on Saturday and will continue on Sunday before a pair of games against the New York Islanders rookie bunch on Monday and Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum.
For local and national fans, there were a host of names that may be quite familiar from their days donning college sweaters.
Most notably was former Boston University defenseman David Warsofsky, who is living the dream as a Marshfield, Mass. native.
After the college season concluded with a quarterfinal loss to Northeastern in March, the Bruins assigned him to Providence where he posted three assists in ten games and is now competing for a spot in the “big leagues.”
“Everyone here is fighting for a job,” Warsofsky said. “It’s kind of a lifestyle now. At development camp (in July), you’re making a first impression, but now it really matters and the impressions that you make are the ones that the coaches remember…Every day, you are trying to do your best and prove what you can do out there.”
Bruins Assistant General Manager Jim Benning said that the rookies have had a strong camp so far, working really hard and competing during the first couple practices.
Benning talked about the advantage that the likes of Warsofsky and former Miami standout Carter Camper have over the other players in camp: college experience.
“They’re a little bit older and if they’re a little bit older they’re a little more mature physically,” Benning said of the post-college aged players. “I think in successful organizations there’s three levels of depth. We talk about depth on the NHL team, so there’s competition from within for jobs and for ice time.”
“Our second level or tier of depth we talk about is guys that have signed pro contracts and are looking to make the big team and playing in the AHL. So David Warsofsky’s in that group. And Colby Cohen (former BU teammate and current Providence Bruin) is in that group and they’re looking to push for an NHL job.”
Camper was a strong player during his four years at Miami whose point scoring increased every season, topping out with a career-high 38 assists and 57 points during his senior season.
Those numbers were second only to fellow Redhawk Andy Miele, who captured the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s best male collegiate player.
“He’s not big but he’s quick and he’s strong,” Benning said of Camper. “He’s strong on the puck and he makes plays…He’s got the hockey sense and the hands and the skill to compete with the older guys so we’re looking to him to be producing offensively and he should have a good camp for us.”
Another familar collegiate name that is on the rookie roster is Notre Dame’s Calle Ridderwall, who hails from Stockholm, Sweden. He scored 16 goals and 25 points for the Irish last year and took 122 shots, which were second-most on the team.
Californian natives Kyle MacKinnon and Kevan Miller will be familiar to those that followed Hockey East over the past four years.
MacKinnon, a native of Walnut, Calif., posted three points in five games with the P-Bruins after four years down the road at Providence College. Miller played in six games after graduating from Vermont, where the Los Angeles native was a two-year team captain.