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Joe Colborne Makes a Big Debut

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Boston used the No. 16 pick to make Joe Colborne the first Tier II player selected this year.


One college hockey box score that Bruins fans might have overlooked last Saturday reads Denver 5, Notre Dame 2.

It was notable because the Pioneers began their 60th season of collegiate hockey with the Boston Bruins number one draft pick of 2008 (sixteenth overall), Joe Colborne, in the fold.

Just two days earlier, On October 9th, Colborne (Calgary, Alberta) was named to the 2008-09 Inside College Hockey Preseason All-Rookie Team.

Last season, Colborne was named the Canadian Junior A Player of the Year after leading Camrose to the Alberta Junior Hockey League and Doyle Cup championships.

“So far I’ve been loving pretty much everything about being down here,” said Colborne via phone on Sunday. “School’s been good. College life has been good. But I’ve just been really happy with how the hockey is going and the amount I have learned so far.”

The Bruins prospect said one transition that he had to make was the relatively small number of games that college clubs play.

Although that can be a positive in the eyes of some (including the Boston Bruins) in that the college schedule allows players to attend class and work on physical conditioning on a more consistent basis, there are often long stretches of time between contests.

“If you come out real flat in one game you don’t have a chance to go and make up for it a couple of days down the road, you (sometimes) have to wait a full week,” explained Colborne. “That can kind of wear on you if you are not ready for every shift because there are so few games.”

As a result, Denver head coach George Gwozdecky emphasizes concentration on every practice shift.

“He’s been big on making sure that we are doing things in practice as game-like as possible, because that’s how you have to practice,” said the freshman forward. “If anything it’s more important because those are the ‘games’ you are playing to prepare for the games that really count, so he has been stressing a lot of the details like talking on the ice, making sure we are coming back deeper on our curls.

“A lot of times you would get used to (those things) in games, but you need to get into the habit (in practice) when you are not playing as much.”

It’s been a whirlwind year for the kid from Calgary, but Colborne has been able to keep his goals reasonable and has focused solely on the task at hand.

“The biggest thing for me was just to come in…and prove to myself that play with a high level of players,” said Joe, who indicated that going to Boston Bruins Development Camp was a big step in the right direction.

“It was huge for my confidence that I went to a camp like that,” he said. “I learned a lot of skills and little things from the coaches that were there.

“So, I just try to incorporate as much I learned there (as possible) and put it into my game so I’ll be able to make the jump to the pro level when I’m ready.”

Colborne did not surprise the Bruins with his ability to shine during development camp. They believe they have found a 6-foot, 5-inch gem.

“For a guy his size, he could handle the puck and could see the ice very well and make good plays with the puck,” said Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning when asked about made the Black & Gold pick Colborne. “His ability to just see the ice and recognize offensive situations and the release on his shot, he’s good a good shot, were the first things we noticed in him.

“From there, it was kind of projecting…what, in the end is he going to turn out to be.

“So that was kind of intriguing to us, with his size and skill,” he said.

Denver's coaching staff is excited as well.

"He's certainly a very talented young player," said Gwozdecky to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post before the season. "He does a lot of things very well. He can pass the puck very well. He sees the ice very well. And he shoots the puck very well.

"And I've spent a lot of time with Joe outside of the rink. I know what his attitude is like, and I can tell you he's a terrific young man who understands the patience and development process he must go through.

Joe Colborne at practice.
"We're not expecting him to go out and dominate, but like all our freshmen, we'll give him an opportunity to be in the lineup and grow through trial, and I'm sure error. But we think he's going to be a terrific player for us."

Projections for Joe’s entry into the professional game seem to hover around a spot in time about two seasons hence, but until then, the young skater is determined to bring as much skill as possible back with him to New England – whenever that may be.

Asked where he has spent the most time on the ice this fall, the forward said, “Wing actually. The left mostly, but we’ve been changing lines up quite a bit to find some chemistry, so we’ll see what happens…but I was both left wing and center (in junior) and I was pretty comfortable playing both.”

The forward is very excited about his team’s potential going into the NCAA regular season.

“We have a pretty balanced attack and our coach likes to play quite a few guys, so it’s been good,” said Colborne. “I’ve been very fortunate to get both power play and penalty kill and even strength ice in the last game.

“I was pretty excited about that and to play my part to help our team get our first win. So hopefully, I’ll be able to continue a pretty big role for our team.

“We had a big win against Notre Dame on Saturday night, 5-2, and they were ranked, I think, fourth in the nation, so I think that should help our rankings out, but in four or five months it (only) matters who is number one.”

Game wise, the difference between junior and collegiate is speed, particularly in transition, and Colborne said that he has already dealt with that demand.

“The first couple of weeks that I was here, it was a big learning experience and I had to just get mentally focused to work a little quicker and make decisions quicker,” he said. “But now that I am getting more used to it, it’s starting to slow down.”

Now that he knows that he can compete the highly skilled players in the NCAA, what is Coborne’s next goal?

Well, it would be to score a goal, of course.

“It’s been kind of close in a few spots," he said. "I am just hoping next game will be the one."
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