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Taking on Two Pastimes in One Day

by Hannah Goldman / Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins prospect Zach Hamill has had little time to rest this off-season.

He spent the second week of July on the ice at the B’s inaugural development camp. But Zach has had plenty of business to take care of off the ice as well.

Hamill’s hectic summer schedule started in Columbus, Ohio at the 2007 NHL draft combine. Then the Boston Bruins organization called his name early on in the 1st round, as Zach was selected with the eighth overall pick to headline the B’s 2007 draft team.

At that time, Hamill told, “The draft is the draft.

“It’s exciting. You work for it all year and then it comes. But the work starts tomorrow.”

It was clear, however, when Zach stepped on the ice at Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington that his work had been ongoing.

The Vancouver native, who played last season for the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, showed the crowd why he was the B’s number one choice.

Director of Player Development and Hockey Operations, Don Sweeney, told the press after the first day of camp “Zach does things in game situations that might come more natural to him than other players. He brings a work ethic to practice though, and we hope that his creativity will be able to shine in game situations.”

Advertised as a tremendous stick-handler with great on-ice vision, Hamill showed those attributes when he and the other prospects got on the ice during the second day of camp for a four-on-four scrimmage.

Hamill’s fast hands and quick mind were lost on nobody, least of all his teammates.

“I am impressed with Hamill,” said fellow 2007 draft pick Alain Goulet. “He is really good.

"He has a lot of skill and is great with the puck.”

The following day in Wilmington saw the players get out on the ice for an hour-long power skating session with Strength and Conditioning Coach, John Whitesides and Paul Vincent.

All of the prospects had different takes on the skating session, but according to Hamill it wasn’t too bad.

“To be a better hockey player, you have to work on everything,” said Hamill. “And power skating is one of those things.

“The organization knows that, and that is why they have us doing it.”

However, the on-ice workouts were only a small part of the goings-on at the development camp as a big portion of the camp was devoted to off-ice bonding and Boston-area activities.

That bonding was an important aspect to Hamill, especially because, having played in the WHL, many of the faces around the B’s locker room were familiar, but not necessarily in a good way.

Being familiar foes on the ice, names like Vancouver Giants’ Milan Lucic and Wacey Rabbit, along with other WHLers Jordan Knackstedt, Levi Nelson, and Jared Walker, did not always bring happy thoughts to Hamill -- at least prior to camp.

“It is kind of cool to be on the same team as them, and go through this with them,” said Hamill. “I play against these guys four or six times a year.

“It is tough to play games against them, but it is definitely good to play with them.”

Besides forming fast friendships with former rivals, Hamill and the rest of the guys spent some of their nights in Boston, experiencing the city.  For instance, one night they all hopped on a Duck Tour and took a long sightseeing expedition around downtown and into the Charles River.

“It was cool," said Hamill, who had visited the city after the draft, but did not get a chance to explore.

"It was the first time that I have seen the real city -- the real part of Boston.”

Zach had the chance to see another real big part of Boston a few nights later – a part that very few Bostonians will ever have the chance to experience, and with the rest of his fellow campers sitting in the right field stands, Hamill took to the mound at Fenway Park to throw the ceremonial first pitch at a Red Sox game versus the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I thought he gave (the pitch) a good gun,” said Chris Collins. “That is a long way to throw it.

“It was a good toss."

Zach marks his short stint in a Boston baseball uniform as one of his favorite moments of camp.

“Throwing out the first pitch at Fenway is something I will never forget for the rest of my life. It is probably a once in a lifetime thing, and I will always remember it.”

Although the chance to touch the grass might only be a once in a lifetime experience, Hamill hopes his visit to the Fens is not.

“They shut down the streets just for a baseball game here. People take it pretty seriously; it is a lot different in Canada. It’s cool. Hopefully one day, I’ll go to more games.”

Hamill hopes that that “one-day” is not too far away.

“It would definitely be nice (to be in Providence next season)," he said.  "My ultimate life goal is to play in the NHL as a professional.

"But for right now, I am going to go to camp and try to make the team.

"I am going to go in there and work hard and do my best (and) we’ll see what happens,” he said.
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