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On the Road: Stowe & Waterbury, Vermont

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Tuesday, September 30th

2:15 p.m.

John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
There’s just something about the beautiful Vermont countryside that just makes you want to…hit someone.

Despite the badly needed R&R – and after the hectic first week of training camp, it was very much necessary – today, after practice, the Bruins seemed ready to move forward with the season and play some hockey.

“Yah, I want to play some more games,” said Marc Savard. “You want to get a better feel and get used to the guys you are starting the year with.

“I’d like to get our power play going a bit before we get going into the season.

“That’s always key,” he said.

The antidote for the lack of game play is a sold out Bell Centre.

“Montreal is a great place to play hockey,” said Savard. “That will be fun.”

Head coach Claude Julien agreed and pointed to the Bruins vs. Canadiens rivalry to move the B’s engines to high gear.

“It’s going to be a sellout crowd in Montreal,” said Julien. “We’re (going) to approach this like a real game.

“So are they.”

Despite the exhibition tag, anytime the Habs take on the Black & Gold is a big deal.

“There’s been a pretty good rivalry (recreated) in the last season,” said Julien. “There is no such thing as an exhibition game when you play the Montreal Canadiens against the Boston Bruins.

“They are real games and both teams take it pretty seriously.”

10:44 p.m.
The end is near. Sprints!

10:34 p.m.
There was a least one more drill -- a one-on-one battle drill. Patrice Bergeron seemed to enjoy this drill a lot, as he just simply outlasted his opponents.

A funny moment: Aaron Ward pretending to jump and tackle Marco Sturm.

The drill switched to a two-on-two format shortly afterward.

10:21 p.m.
The B's are in a scrimmage type drill, four-on-four, which will probably close out the practice.

9:51 p.m.

RIght now the team is in a drill that looks like a shootout. And although there are smiles, they are clearly keeping track of who scores and how.

Phil Kessel (of course) has had the nicest thus far. He came in forehand, pulled to his backhand, and over his left foot roofed it over the goalie.

9:13 p.m.
Back to the Ice Center, where another nice crowd has gathered for the 9:30 a.m. practice.

News Flash: It is cold in here.

Jeremy Reich, Andrew Alberts and Matt Lashoff are the first on the ice.

Monday, September 29th
7:18 p.m.
This morning, Coach Julien spoke about the team building aspect of the trip to Vermont.

“We got really good feedback from the players last year who thought this was good,” he said. “And we (as a staff) thought it was very good.

“As far as building team chemistry and players getting along, I think when you look at the long run, last year the chemistry was extremely good and we started off on the right foot and it just grew from there.

“Giving ourselves an opportunity to do those things is very important,” said Julien.

The Bruins head coach knows that the method is not unique around the league.

“I know there’s a lot of other teams that do the same thing, but I am just one of those believers of getting off on the right foot and having a good start is a crucial part of your season,” he said.

Julien said that the Bruins time on the road to start the season can’t be used as a team building exercise.

“When we start the season it’s not about bonding, it’s about winning hockey games,” he said. “And we need to do this kind of bonding, now.”

Why travel to Vermont, coach?

“I just happened to come here on vacation and started looking around,” he said. “It’s probably a perfect scenario for a team to come to.

“It’s got everything we need.

“Part of it is getting away from the city, and part of it is that Stowe is a beautiful place – especially this time of year,” said Julien.

2:45 p.m.

It’s been an all-around fun day in Vermont True Believers.

The Bruins arrived at the Ice Center of Washington West to find a number of fans waiting for their bus to arrive.

Perhaps owing to a very relaxing evening on Sunday, the B’s were in high spirits on the ice and there was a lot of ribbing going on, particularly between Petteri Nokelainen and Marc Savard.

Savard gave Nokelainen “the business” for not being in the right place during a drill and finally, when he had hear enough, Noke gave Savvy a quick squirt with a water bottle.

“We were just joking with him,” said Savard. “He had a little bit of a tough (drill).

“We are just trying to work hard – but have fun, too.

“That’s why we are here, to have fun and keep getting closer together,” he said.

Savard agreed that the atmosphere in Vermont has allowed the team to relax and retool for the end of training camp and the beginning of the regular season.

“We are here to work hard and put in the time,” said the center. “But in the same sentence, we are there to have fun and build (a team).

“We get along well and we want to move that along into the season.”

The players were also pleased with the number of fans who were able to make time for them on a weekday – particularly pleasing were the faces of the children who stopped by to see the practice.

“You remember when you were that kid, watching the guys play,” said Savard. “I never really got a chance like this, but when the Senators first started in Ottawa I used to go and watch pregame skates…and it’s something that I never forgot.

“And I know these kids appreciate it.”

The players also appreciated the energy the youngsters brought to the rink.

“It’s great,” said Chuck Kobasew, who looked great in his first preseason game appearance. “This is the support we get all throughout New England and even this far north in Vermont.

“It’s nice and it looks like there’s probably even more fans than there were last year.

“And I know a lot of them were here to see Tim (Thomas),” he said.

Kobasew had similar memories to Savard.

“It’s always fun to practice in front of new fans, especially young kids,” said Chuck. “There’s a lot of kids here today and I know that when I was growing up and we got a chance to watch junior guys or pro guys it was always an exciting thing.

“It’s great for them.”

Although the appearance of Thomas, University of Vermont alum, elicited a very large response, there’s no doubt that a significant number turned out to see Patrice Bergeron, as well.

Bergeron, who remembers going to see his hometown Quebec Nordiques play when he was a child, was happy to return the favor.

“It’s always nice to see some fans out there (at practice), some young players and little kids,” he said. “To see those (children) with a Bruins jersey on is always special.

“I don’t know if they had school today, or if it was an off day (laughs), but it’s fun for them and I am very happy that they are here.

“But it’s awesome for us, because it does give us energy and we’re obviously trying to have a good practice for them – they deserve to have a good show.”

But Bergeron also believes that the opportunity to bond will keep the “good show” going beyond the borders of the Green Mountain State.

“You could tell there at the end of the skating drill,” said Bergeron of the team coming together. “We were all following each other trying to ‘draft’ so we didn’t get tired.

“It didn’t work too well, but I think the guys are already starting to build the chemistry.

“I mean, we already know each other from last year and that helps a lot, but we’ve been in Halifax for five days, now we are here in Vermont – we’ve been on the road a lot during training camp – so that helps the bonding right away.”

The club will continue those bonding exercises this afternoon with some physical, off-ice, team building exercises and the trip to the Ben & Jerry’s Factory to sign some autographs.

Head coach Claude Julien was asked if he liked ice cream.

He looked at the media and said, “Yes, I’ve been there already – a few times.”

10:53 a.m.
Hello VT! Meet the Bruins Autograph Session...

The Boston Bruins, in conjunction with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, are hosting a meet and greet autograph session with the Black & Gold, Monday night, September 29th at the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory (1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, off of Rte. 100), Vermont beginning at 8 p.m.

The Bruins, who are in northern Vermont during the second half of their 2008 Training Camp would like to repay the hospitality of the people in Northern New England by hosting this unique event and are looking forward to meeting as many fans as possible.

It is expected that the entire roster will participate.

9:58 a.m.

Let's bring some info out of retirement! JB

Where are we?
A Vermont scene. (Photo:
A resort in Stowe, Vermont.

Like its neighbor New Hampshire, Vermont is a green paradise -- the truest reflection of New England's ancient landscape.

An amazing place to visit and live, Vermont can also boast several terrific hockey programs. In particular, the University of Vermont plays in one of the most famous rinks in all of college hockey -- the Gut -- or Gutterson Field House, and counts John LeClair, Eric Perrin, Martin St. Louis and the Bruins own Tim Thomas as alumni.

Meanwhile, nearby Middlebury and Norwich both continue to ice superior squads every season and surely the youth hockey programs in the state will grow as rinks are built.

"To see Stowe and the surrounding countryside at its most spectacular, visit Stowe in autumn. Frosty mornings give way to cool, crisp days--perfect for enjoying the outdoors. The colorful hillsides--ablaze with red, orange, and gold--are truly breathtaking. It's a treat for the senses and the soul!

But please don't ask us to tell you exactly when the leaves will be at their peak. The timing depends on temperature, sunlight, and rainfall amounts. This makes the timing of the peak a little different from year to year and impossible to predict exactly, although it's the subject of endless speculation in these parts. As a general rule, you can be assured of viewing brilliant colors from the last week of September through the first two weeks of October (with some isolated color both before and after). Make your reservations early! People flock to our beautiful village from all over the world to see nature's most impressive show!"

"The Native American inhabitants of the area now known as Vermont were the Abenaki, a tribe of the Algonquin nation. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of Abenaki villages along the shores of Lake Champlain near the mouth of the Winooski River. "Winooski" is an Abenaki term for "wild onion." Abenaki villages were also located along the Connecticut River.
Samuel de Champlain, an early French explorer of North America, was the first European to discover the Green Mountains. In the summer of 1609, Champlain left his encampment on the St. Lawrence in Quebec and joined the Algonquians in an expedition against their enemies, the Iroquois. The journey up the river brought Champlain onto the lake that now carries his name on July 4, 1609.

The name "Vermont" is itself derived from the French, les monts verts, "the green mountains."

The first permanent English settlement was established along the Connecticut River in 1724 at Fort Dummer, near what is now Brattleboro. The fort was maintained by the colonial governments of Massachusetts and New Hampshire as a defensive outpost throughout the French and Indian Wars.

When peace was made with the French in 1760, the Green Mountains were quickly opened to settlement, and to considerable squabbling between the colonies of New Hampshire and New York as to which had the proper claim to the territory, then called the New Hampshire Grants. Most of the new settlers were from Connecticut or Massachusetts and persistently resisted the claims of authority by New York. Resistance to the "Yorkers" brought the organization of the Green Mountain Boys under the leadership of Col. Ethan Allen in 1775; this small but experienced army came to play a significant role during the American Revolution at the battles of Hubbardton and Bennington in 1777.

On January 17, 1777, Vermont was declared an independent republic in a meeting held at Westminster. This independent course, with the little republic minting its own coin and providing postal service, was followed until 1791 when Vermont was admitted to the union, the first state to join the original thirteen. The first governor was Thomas Chittenden."
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