After being drafted by the Black & Gold, the Vancouver Giants Craig Cunningham
looks to follow in the footsteps of a formner Vancouver forward who now casts a long shadow for Boston.
And this past July, Cunningham worked very hard at Bruins Development Camp in the hopes of joining his former Vancouver Giants teammate, and current Bruin, Milan Lucic
in the NHL.
Cunningham, acquired by the Bruins in the fourth round of this year’s 2010 entry draft (97th overall) is a 5-foot-10, 180-pound native of Trail, British Columbia who has played in the WHL for the past four season.
During the 2006-07 season the names of the two forwards were on the Giants club that won Junior Hockey's Memorial Cup. But in addition to the season they spent together in Vancouver, Cunningham and Lucic have spent the past four summers training together.
Prior to the draft, Lucic hoped that Boston would see the talent in the 19-year-old forward and now the left wing is excited to see if they will be teammates once again.
“It’s been really great to watch him," said Lucic, who marvels at his friend's hard work. “The fact that he learned that [work ethic] at such a young age is only going to help him become a better pro and hopefully get on the Boston Bruins sooner rather than later."
Freshly acquired from this year’s draft, Cunningham said he spoke to Lucic (who made a big Dev Camp impression of his own in 2007) about what to expect.
“I talked to Lucic beforehand and he explained [the process] to me," said Craig. "The week was everything I expected it to be and more.
"Every player here is a good player and I had a lot of fun. I learned a lot and I am going to take that back with me over the next two months and really work on my game and work on my fitness.
"I hope to come back and make a big impression at [training] camp,” he said.
But thanks to his play in the WHL and evidenced by his being drafted by the Black & Gold Cunningham has already made a pretty big impression on the B's.
During the 2009-2010 season he lead the Giants in goals (37), assists (60) and points (97) as well as finishing second overall in the WHL for goals while tying for third with points. He also led the Giants in postseason scoring with 12 goals and 24 points.
“[This week] was a great experience for me, [it was] my first time in Boston," said Cunningham, who attended the New York Rangers prospect camp in 2009. “The first two days of team building made the week a lot easier. I came in not knowing anyone and after the first few days it kind of felt like we were a team.
"And usually at these camps that doesn’t happen very quickly.”
While the workouts and practices were a great experience for all of the development camp prospects, Cunningham said hanging out with the other players was his favorite part of the week.
“We had a suite up in our hotel and we had a big Wii tennis tournament," he said with a smile. "My team was one of the better teams, so that was pretty fun being together with all the guys.
"Going out to dinner and just hanging out with the new guys was probably the best part of the experience.”
For such a young player, Cunningham has already seen his fair share of different coaching staffs, but as the week concluded, he was extremely happy with what he witnessed Boston.
“The coaches were great," said Craig. "Obviously they’re coaching at a pro level so they’re great coaches. But [They kept a] lot of flow [to the practice] and a lot of balance.
"There weren’t too many guys out there [on the ice] so we were always moving.”
“And it was good to meet the coaches that hopefully you’re going to play for one day."---Samantha Curtin