BRAINTREE, MA -- It’s usually a race to the puck for the Bruins prospects at Development Camp, but last Sunday it was a race to the finish line.
The NHL hopefuls hung up their skates and suited up in racing jumpsuits to burn some rubber at F1 Boston.
"It was a cool activity. The guys had a lot of fun and it got pretty competitive out there,” said development camp veteran Tommy Cross. “Its definitely one of the most fun things we do, it’s good to get away from the rink a little bit, have some fun."
The prospects lined up in pit row for three races each before a consolation round followed by a final.
"You don’t realize how fast you’re going until you actually go into a turn,” said Matt Grzelcyk, who was “honored” for holding the slowest lap time.
Aside from giving the players a chance to get out of the rink, it also provided a venue for them to build friendships.
"It’s pretty unexpected how tight all the guys have become with each other," said Grzelcyk after the races were finished. "But it’s been very enjoyable."
Equipment manager for the Providence Bruins, Joel Lake, held the lead for most of the final race, but a late-in-the-game crash opened up a window for camp invitee Chris Casto to take the lead.
"It’s widely debated from the team if it’s a true victory," said Casto after his victory lap around the course. "There was a big crash at the end and I passed a couple people but I still won and that’s all that matters."
But not all of his teammates were surprised by the come-from-behind win.
"Casto’s my roommate [at development camp]," said Cross. "He told me, he’s like ‘I love this racing stuff’ and then sure enough he goes and wins.
"I think he had some hidden talent but he didn’t want to tell us."
Even though the racing provided a chance for the prospects to bond, their competitive sides still took precedents out on the track.
"There was lot of yelling and screaming especially at the end," said Casto.
Cross also noted the competitive aspect they carried with them from the rink.
"Guys want to win," he said. "I think those races might have gotten a little bit more competitive than they’re used to here."
While Cross felt that holding tight to the steering wheel was akin to clutching a hockey stick, Grzelcyk held a different opinion about whether or not there was a practical application of racing in hockey.
"Maybe, I don’t know," said Grzelcyk. "I hope not to be honest."