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Prospect Report: Junior Ranks Start Season with Spark

by Evan Sporer / Boston Bruins

The following feature appears in the October 15th edition of the Boston Bruins Prospect Report. Download the complete report, which includes features, upcoming games and statistics on all Bruins prospects, by clicking here.
- While Providence has started its 2012-13 campaign and NCAA student-athletes are in the midst of their prospective seasons, Black & Gold prospects in the junior ranks have gotten off to a hot start. The B’s system includes five players in the Ontario Hockey League and one recent draft pick in the United States Hockey League.

2012 draft pick Matthew Benning steadily improved with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints during the 2011-12 season, adding four goals and adding 14 assists in 44 games, before joining the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints for 2012-13, where he has 2-1=3 totals in four games. While his offense is on the upside, the blueliner believes that his physical defensive game is most important.

“I think I’m more of a stay-at- home D-man,” said Benning after being drafted by the Bruins in June. “Just kind of like rough and tough...hard to play against kind of D-man.”

Anthony Camara started his third OHL campaign with a spark as he recorded a hat trick for the Barrie Colts in the club’s opening game, a 6-4 win over the Ottawa 67’s on September 20. Camara is coming off a sea- son in which he scored 16 goals, the most he’s ever tallied in juniors. He stands a solid shot at raising that bar if he continues his current scoring output, which has seen him score nine goals in as many games.

At Development Camp this summer, Camara said he looked to continue to distinguish himself with his physical play.

“I’m just a power-forward, up-and-down winger,” he said during camp. “I like to get my nose dirty in the corners and I just like to finish checks.”

If there’s a hotter player than Camara right now, it’s Seth Griffith. In the London Knights’ first two games, which they won by a combined score of 16-4, Griffith scored five goals, including a hat trick, and was named OHL Player of the Week. In London’s first eight games, he has nine goals and 15 points. Last season, Griffith netted 45 goals—more than twice what he scored the season prior (22).

“I believe as long as you’re working hard, good things will happen,” the 19-year-old said at Dev Camp in July. “That’s just how I’ve been my whole life and I think I’ll do it until the day I stop playing.”

Cody Payne, now in his second season with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, may be the most physical, bruising forward the Bruins have playing in juniors right now. Providence Head Coach Bruce Cassidy noted Payne’s physical style during Development Camp and Payne also acknowledged that nature of his game: “I see a guy and if he’s in my train tracks there’s no doubt I’m gonna finish the checks.”

After inking an entry-level deal with the Bruins on September 6, Mal-colm Subban is back with the Belleville Bulls. The goalie recently posted his best save percentages of the season, leading the Bulls to a 2-1 shootout win over Brampton on October 10 with a .969 save percentage and stopping 44 shots en route to a 4-1 victory over the Ottawa 67’s on October 13 while registering a .978 save percentage.

This past summer, the 2012 first-round pick helped lead Team Canada past Russia in the Canada-Russia Challenge, winning both of the games he started and starring in the decisive series-clinching overtime period. Following his first-round selection in June’s draft, General Manager Peter Chiarelli said, “He’s obviously a real good goalie, a tremendous athlete, in- credible leg thrust post to post, and he’s a real good kid—solid character.”

At 6-foot-5, defenseman Dougie Hamilton is arguably the top prospect in the B’s system. The 19-year-old from Toronto was not only a physical fixture on the Niagara IceDogs blueline last season, but also an offensive threat, scoring 17 goals and recording 55 assists in just 50 games to lead all OHL defensemen in points. Hamilton joined Subban in helping lead Team Canada to the Canada-Russia Challenge series victory this summer. In Niagara’s 2012-13 season opener, he showed his multidimensional force on the blueline by welcoming OHL rookie Connor McDavid with a hard-nosed hit and notching an assist for the IceDogs in a 4-2 win over the Erie Otters.

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