Boston, MA --
You may not have noticed it, because Nate Thompson is anything but flashy. But the Bruins workaday forward has "quietly" forechecked his way into a possible berth on the Boston regular season roster.
Thompson, not yet 23, has been lost in the shuffle of Boston's other young forwards. And since the hard-working center has been around the organization for parts of three seasons previous to his arrival at the 2007 Training Camp, it would be easy to forget that he has as good a shot at making the club as anyone.
Following a four-season career with the Seattle Thunderbirds, the Anchorage, Alaska native played 11 games for the Baby B's in Providence and has been a mainstay in Rhode Island ever since. But four games as a injury replacement last season have left the erstwhile thumper ready for a new challenge and a Black & Gold sweater with a big "B" on it.
On Saturday, September 22nd, versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, Thompson may have had the finest game of his professional career. Although it was a preseason game, Nate was one of the players that new head coach Claude Julien singled out, in a positive sense, following an exhibition loss to Toronto.
And although his goal, on two shots, in only 7:33 and 13 shifts (by far the lowest on the team), didn't count officially, the praise from the coach certainly does.
"That was his first game and at one point he kind of got pushed out a little bit with all of these penalties," explained Julien. "So…I just put him out there on the power play he responded well, by scoring a goal.
"I was glad to see that (because) there's a guy who kept his concentration intact.
"He was ready when he was called upon," he said.
Thompson is always ready to play hockey, and there are few people on the planet who visibly enjoy the game more than the 6', 207-pound center. Caught after the game on Saturday, a 4-3 overtime loss, however, sitting in the Bruins locker room, a mention of the goal brought a big grin to Thompson's face.
But, because of the loss, it only lasted so long.
"It was my first game and I think it went alright," said Thompson. "The goal was nice, but that is going to be a rare occurrence.
"I have to do some little things better. There were a couple of mistakes I made here and there, but overall I think it was pretty good.
"But I can do better."
In training camp, everyone can play better, but nobody competes harder than Thompson.
Last season, with Providence, he was a key component of the P-Bruins playoff squad. Despite notching two assists, his agitating techniques and nose-to-the-grindstone attitude rubbed off on his teammates -- and it seems to be working in Boston, as well.
"I think I just have stay focused and keep it simple," said Thompson, when asked about his personal game. "When I am trying to do too much is when I am not playing well, so I think that is the biggest thing.
"I have to go north and south and make the simple plays.
"But the Goal did feel good, I am not going to lie to you."
Again came the hockey-loving smile.
"Like I said, I don't get to fist pump like that too often," he added.
Perhaps, if things go his way this week at Bruins Training Camp, we just might see that fist pump a little more frequently.
---BostonBruins.com has been following Nate around during the preseason. Nate has been kind enough to allow us into his experience during the Bruins exhibition season. Below, listen to him describe his feelings and observations about Training Camp 2007. JB
September 13. Nate Thompson
September 21.Nate Thompson
September 25. (New!)