Wilmington, MA --
|Joe Loprieno (far right) waits for the next drill.
Last summer, Chicago native Joe Loprieno stayed home to attend the Blackhawks development camp. But this year, the Black & Gold invited the Merrimack College defenseman to attend their second annual gathering of prospects.
Loprieno explained that there were clear differences between the two camps.
“This is more of a development camp where everybody gets to know everybody in a team oriented feel,” he said. “Whereas the Blackhawks had…a lot of (young) players and a lot of free agent players getting invites to come try out for the team.”
Nevertheless, the level of competition in Wilmington was very high.
“Some of these kids will be coming back to a regular training camp,” said Don Sweeney, Bruins Director of Hockey Operations and Player Development. “Obviously, they will be amped up and there will be higher intensity, and it will be physical because you are competing for jobs at that point.
“This (camp) is about kids getting their feet wet…and becoming part of our organization and hopefully giving them a jumpstart to their pro careers.”
Clearly, Loprieno took advantage of that jumpstart.
During the B’s camp his physical stature and powerful presence on the blueline made for a dominant and successful defender who constantly sought out unsuspecting forwards to deliver bone-crunching hits.
But that is not all that surprising.
Loprieno’s talents had already earned him a spot with Merrimack in Hockey East, and last season, he was named an alternate captain and received the Warrior Award, given to “the player who shows perseverance, toughness and dedication to the Merrimack program.”
And while the local squad often plays the role of underdog in what could arguably be called the best Division-I conference in the NCAA, Loprieno’s inclusion on the squad is certainly enough to ensure that nobody ever overlooks the Warriors.
“The coaching staff is awesome,” said Loprieno of his college team. “All the (players) are doing very well.
“We made a nice leap last year and we’re moving in the right direction.”
Loprieno also said that Merrimack’s location near Boston has helped him focus on hockey.
“Boston’s a little smaller (than Chicago) but for the most part, it’s a pretty similar city,” he said. “All the people have been great and I made a little home out here for myself, going to college and everything. So it’s good.”
No doubt Loprieno’s good work at Development Camp will keep his image fresh in the minds of the Bruins front office and could very possibly lead to a successful future of professional hockey in New England.