Wilmington, MA –
|Kevin Regan takes a break. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) |
With some exciting flashes of his newly broken-in Black & Gold glove and pads, University of New Hampshire product Kevin Regan, still wearing his old blue and white Wildcats mask, spent Thursday morning at Ristuccia Memorial Arena reminding the Bruins why he is one of the most decorated New England college hockey players in recent history.
Observers at Ristuccia saw the South Boston native acquit himself quite well against the rest of the mostly veteran B’s squad during the informal practice. But Regan, just beginning his first full professional season, admits that he is still just getting his feet wet as he prepares to try out for his hometown team later this month.
“The speed of the game is a lot faster, especially the way they’re moving the puck and the way they’re thinking out there on the ice,” Regan said. “I think the biggest shift (from college) is that the quickness level.
“And I’m sure the rest of the guys aren’t at full speed at this point, but it’s been a challenging and exciting change.”
Regan comes to the Bruins this fall fresh off of a stellar four-year career at UNH that was punctuated by his being named recipient of the 56th Walter Brown Award for the best American-born Division-I college hockey player in New England.
Regan understands, however, that no matter his collegiate credentials, the step up to the NHL is big one and the young goalie is doing his best to take it all in stride.
“The transition has been nice,” Regan explained. “I’m lucky I live local, so I’ve been able to get in here early and work with (strength and conditioning coach John) Whitesides and get fully involved with development camp.”
Regan has noticed that his new coaches have taken a different approach to how they teach the young goalie to cover his angles.
“Sometimes switching from different coaches changes up the style of coaching you get,” he said. “My UNH coach might help me work on one thing one way and (goalie Coach Bob Essensa) might work on it with me another way.
“It keeps me working through different scenarios and constantly improving.”
This past week, Essensa led Regan, along with fellow netminders Tim Thomas
, Manny Fernandez and Tuukka Rask
, through an intense instructional goalie camp.
“The goalie camp has been really helpful,” Regan said. “It’s been good to get out there for an hour and just focus on goalie stuff for once.
“Usually the other guys are just skating around working on their own stuff, and they end up hitting a lot of backboards, so it can be tough.
“But to have someone shoot the puck where you want it, instead of having guys dangling around you, it really helps you to work on your technique,” he said.
No matter how good your technique may be, no goalie has a 100% save percentage. As such, Thursday’s skate was concluded with a thrilling Shawn Thornton
breakaway goal that snuck by Regan, left him sitting on the ice and had spectators and players alike hooting and hollering for the B’s enforcer.
True to form, however, Regan popped up quickly and cracked a smile – a smile that reminded onlookers that the young backstop has the quick-to-forget mentality so essential to being a successful NHL goalie, as well as the skill set that makes it easy to predict that his best days are still to come.