BostonBruins.com -- Zach McKelvie
hasn't had the traditional life of a professional hockey player. He attended West Point and played for the NCAA's Black Knights, but the defenseman took a two-year hiatus from the ice to fulfill his Army commitment.
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After serving as an executive officer for basic training at Fort Benning in Columbus, GA, McKelvie was able to attend Bruins training camp earlier this season.
“The lifestyles are completely different,” McKelvie said. “Most people in the military work five to six days a week; 12 hours a day…but there are a lot of similar areas too.
“In the military you’re expected to perform and you’re being evaluated all the time and that’s pretty similar to what we go through.
“So the military has definitely helped prepare me to play hockey again,” he said
That preparation helped McKelvie turn some heads in camp before he went to the AHL, and the blueliner said he tried to learn as much as he could while he was skating with Boston.
“I was excited to be there, it wasn’t until a day before rookie camp I knew I was going to be playing,” he said. “Then when I got there it was a great experience and I learned a lot. I tried to take in as much as possible, and it helped me realize where I need to go with my game and what I need to work on to get to the next level.”
McKelvie said that it wasn’t too hard to transition back and adopt the hockey lifestyle – something he’s been accustomed to his entire life – and he looks forward to improving.
“Every day I try to pick up something new, I try to watch other guys and their approach to the game,” he said. “There’s still a lot of things I need to work on, but I’m confident that if I keep working at it and keep trying to learn more I can improve.”
During the preseason, Head Coach Claude Julien said he was impressed with McKelvie.
“He’s a guy that has barely played in the last two years because of his commitment,” Julien said. “So this is a big step for not playing real serious hockey for the last two years and playing in an NHL [exhibition] game, so I thought he handled himself well.”
At the 2009 Frozen Four, McKelvie won the fastest skater competition, and his speed is something that helps him be a good two-way defender.
“He’s a great skater,” said Boston Bruins Assistant General Manager Jim Benning in September. “He’s a transitional player because he can skate so well, get back and get the puck. And he’ll either be able to carry it out or make a first pass to get the puck up ice, or he’ll jump into play to help out in the offensive end.
"He’s a high character kid and his physical tools are good.”
Thus far, McKelvie has skated in 26games for the P-Bruins and he said he’s excited to be back.
“It’s a step towards my dream to play in the National Hockey League and being able to play professional and play for Providence has been a great experience for my wife and I,” McKelvie said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but there’s things I miss about the military, too.”