-- Freddie Hamilton
considers it his finest professional hockey season to date.
It certainly involved two memorable weeks he hopes to repeat.
When the Calgary Flames acquired the 6-foot-1, 195-pound centre in October from the Colorado Avalanche, it reunited the 24-year-old with younger brother and Flames defensive standout Dougie, whose signature had barely dried on a six-year pact after arriving in Calgary earlier that summer.
It wasn’t a question of would the brothers Hamilton ever play side-by-side under the bright lights of the NHL as much as when.
That lifelong dream became reality in mid-March when the Flames made a fateful call to their American Hockey League affiliate in Stockton requesting Freddie’s services.
For the Hamilton brothers, the highly-anticipated family reunion had finally come.
“We dreamed of that our whole lives and to have that chance to play in the NHL together was awesome, but it was also a tease. It just made us want to do that for years,” said Freddie, a 2010 fifth round (129th overall) draft pick of the San Jose Sharks, who had a combined 29 NHL games under his belt split between San Jose and Colorado prior to landing in Calgary.
Freddie would make his Flames debut alongside his bro on March 16 versus Winnipeg, however it was two nights later when he orchestrated his first C of Red eruption by netting his second career NHL goal – not only while shorthanded but also against the team that had dealt him.
Gratified but not satisfied, the Hamiltons – in what turned out to be Freddie’s final game of the season with the big club – decided to write history when Freddie set up Dougie for a marker against Chicago to become the first Flames brothers to combine for a goal.
“For me, it can’t get much better than that,” said Freddie, who collected two points and a plus-one rating in his four-game stint with the Flames before being reassigned to Stockton. “We’ll talk about that for a long time, but hopefully there will be more memories.”
Though his experience was only a small sample, Freddie says it should help fuel his drive for another crack at the bigs next season.
“Not only getting back to the NHL and getting those games, but to do it with my brother will definitely add some extra motivation,” he said. “I guess I’ll have to work hard to make that a reality.”
It wasn’t, however, the first time the Hamilton siblings had joined forces.
Freddie and Dougie not only played three seasons of junior together with the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs, but in 2012 became only the second set of brothers (behind Mike and Randy Moller in 1982) to represent Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.
"Making the team together, being able to wear the Canadian jersey together, and being able to do it in Canada… that’s probably one of the best memories,” Dougie said.
"Being able to have that experience with your brother,” Freddie echoed, “very memorable.”
As was this season in Stockton for the playmaking pivot.
Centering a line comprised of wingers Kenny Agostino and Garnet Hathaway, Freddie finished fourth in Heat scoring with 18 goals and 43 points in 62 games.
“Another highlight of my season was that line doing well,” Freddie said. “We had tons of chemistry and we had a lot of fun playing together. Haths is a hard worker and is great at creating space, and Ago is such a smart player and so skilled. When he would get the puck it was fun to make plays with him.”
Even more importantly, the eldest Hamilton brother felt he made a major stride with his game in Stockton.
“I proved that to myself when I got called up near the end of the season and played well,” he said. “The coaches do a lot to make sure guys are always improving. We have a young team here so it’s huge for a lot of the prospects in this organization.”
An outfit the pending restricted free agent hopes to remain part of moving forward.
“It is definitely my favourite of the three (NHL clubs) that I have been with,” Freddie sad. “I definitely love it here and I would love to be back.”