– From the second Boston Bruins forward Carter Camper
stepped on the ice at the Scottrade Center for his NHL debut against the St. Louis Blues, the whole event seemed surreal.
In front of 18,640 screaming fans, Camper was able to spot a sign that read, “Welcome to the NHL Carter Camper
.” That’s when it hit him that he was finally at the “Big Show.”
“Before the game all day, I was playing in my mind the certain circumstances I might get myself into throughout the games,” Camper said after today’s practice in Buffalo. “But then when I got out there, saw how big the arena was and heard the noise – it was pretty cool.
“I tried focusing on the ice and not looking up into the stands to see how many people were there – that’s something I’m not used to. I was kind of amazed I’m really here.”
Camper, whose parents, brother and fiancé where in attendance for his debut, lined up for his first faceoff just over two minutes into the game and won the battle.
He said winning his first draw helped calm his nerves, and after that it was back to playing the game he’s played his whole life.
“I won my opening faceoff and [Adam] McQuaid fought five seconds in – after that it was back to normal,” Camper said. “I got that first shift out of the way, and once you’re skating around and the adrenaline is going, you kind of forget about everything else and focus on what your doing out there during a shift.”
Throughout the remainder of the first period, Camper went a perfect 4-4 in the faceoff circle. He finished the game with 6:21 of ice time and went 5-8 in the circle, but he didn’t attempt a shot in the teams 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.
Regardless, Head Coach Claude Julien was pleased with his forward’s efforts.
“He was good on draws and you got to remember, we played one of the best teams in the Western conference,” Julien said. “It was a tough start for him to be thrown in, but I didn’t mind his game.
"He’s smart – I thought his hockey sense was good.”
While the Bruins were trying to seal a 3-2 victory in the third period, Camper didn’t see anytime on the ice, but Julien said the decision wasn’t a reflection of the young forward’s first NHL performance.
“I wouldn’t read into the fact that he didn’t play in the third more than we really needed to win,” Julien said. “And we cut down our bench and went more with experience. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see [Camper] again and maybe even see him a little bit more.”
Camper admitted that after the game, he was rather hard on himself.
However, he wasn’t negatively criticizing his own game more than he was preparing himself to learn as much as he can while he’s with the Bruins.
“I think I try to be a perfectionist really,” Camper said. “It [can be] negative or positive either way you look at it. But [I’m] just trying to build on each game at every level, and in the six minutes I played last night, you can learn a lot.
"And in practices, just seeing how guys go about their daily routines, I can learn something every second.”--- Anthony Gulizia