WILMINGTON, MA - Hockey is a family game – that’s no secret to anyone who has watched the Bruins headlines in the past few months. For example, B's draftee Matt Benning looks to make his uncle, Jim Benning, proud and new Boston forward Chris Bourque is following his father, Ray Bourque’s, footsteps right to the ice at the Garden.
Out at Development Camp, invitee Justin Courtnall was another player that hoped to take the same path as both his uncle (Russ) and father (Geoff) right to the NHL.
“My dad especially has really been there for me,” said Courtnall, whose father played 17 seasons in the NHL – including parts of the first five with Boston. “He’s been able to tell me the ins and outs of what it takes to be a pro – how hard you have to work and what kind of shape you have to be in.
“You know, how important it is to be a professional at all times and make sure that you’re always doing the right thing.”
The 23-year old spent his last three seasons playing for the Boston University Terriers just a few miles across town from the TD Garden.
“We haven’t been able to win too many things since I’ve been at school,” said Courtnall, who tallied four goals and three assists in the 2011-12 season. “I’d really like to start winning some championships both in Hockey East and you know going further into the Frozen Four, maybe even a Beanpot.”
Courtnall was named assistant captain for the Terriers last season, where he said he was “happy to fill a leadership role.”
The rising senior is looking to welcome his fellow camper, Matt Grzelcyk, to the Terriers in the fall.
“I’ve gotten to know him quite a bit here at camp,” said Courtnall of his future teammate. “He’s a great guy so I’m looking forward to having him on the team.”
But before school starts, Courtnall took Development Camp as a chance to work on the skating skills that come easier to the smaller players.
“All of the agility stuff, the tight turns and the in tight stuff on the ice, it’s a harder thing for a bigger guy,” said Courtnall, who stands at 6’3”, 210-pounds.
All in all, for this NHL hopeful, like father like son is all he could ask for.
“I would go out after practice when [my dad] was done practicing and go and skate,” said Courtnall. “[He was] my role model and the person I looked up to so I wanted to be just like him.”