|Washington Capitals left wing Alexander Semin (28), of Russia, is shoved by Boston Bruins Zach Hamill (52) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, April 11, 2010, in Washington. The Bruins won 4-3 in shootout. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) |
It’s your first NHL game, you’re playing the best team in the League, it’s the last game of the regular season, you notch your first NHL point, and you win?
It’s an unlikely scenario, but that was reality for Zach Hamill
, the newest Providence transplant.
The 21-year-old centerman was called up Saturday evening to join the Boston Bruins after they locked up the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.
With 81 games in the books, the team had one more order of business to attend to—a Sunday afternoon appointment with the Washington Capitals in the nation’s capital, the final game of the regular season.
As Mark Recchi, Patrice Bergeron
and Zdeno Chara
had the day off, Hamill and his fellow former Baby-B’s teammates got the nod to fill in and show the NHL’s top team what the young guns in the Bruins artillery cabinet can do.
The energy of Hamill and his teammates helped propel Boston to a 4-3 win over Washington in the shootout. Though the game had no bearing on the standings, it served to shake up the Caps and prove that the Black and Gold can compete with any team, in any circumstance.
It was also the third straight win for the B’s, which they hope will boost their momentum as they head into the playoffs next week.
Flanked by none another than Milan Lucic
and Blake Wheeler, Hamill saw over 12 minutes of ice time and notched an assist—his first point in the NHL. He even was called upon to bolster the power play squad for a shift.
“I think he’s pretty poised with the puck and he competed hard in our own end. He was pretty good; he was in the right position,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “I thought his focus was good. He obviously got a helper there on that one goal, and that’s what we wanted to see.”
Julien went on to explain his reasoning to include a NHL first-timer on the power play.
“We wanted to put him in some positions there where he had an opportunity to showcase his talent and the power play was part of it and I thought he did well,” he said.
The 5’11” 190-pound British Columbia native was selected eighth overall by the Bruins in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, and since has spent the last three seasons with the AHL’s Providence Bruins.
Playing 75 games this season with the P-Bruins, Hamill registered 14-30=44 totals and 24 PIM.
Though he’s usually relaxed under pressure, Hamill admitted that today his nerves were a factor.
“I was fine before the game and all that. I don’t really get nervous,” Hamill said. “Right before my first shift, that’s when my heart rate got a little bit higher.
“I don’t usually get nervous but that was definitely a different scenario for me.”
Though it remains unclear whether or not he will stay on with the Bruins through the postseason, Hamill said he was thankful to get his first glimpse into life on hockey’s biggest stage.
“Obviously playing preseason and then playing the best team in the League is a little bit different, but yeah, you see the speed and the strength of the players,” he said.
“You get a taste and you want more. It gives you something to strive for in the future.”