CALGARY, AB -- The Brown University alumnus graduated some 16 months ago, but the schooling hasn’t stopped.
But it’s not a textbook Garnet Hathaway is cracking. It’s Lance Bouma’s game he’s studying.
“When I was in the AHL last year I was watching him up here,” Hathaway said prior to being one of five players assigned to the Stockton Heat, Calgary’s minor league affiliate, on Friday. “That guy is a competitor. You can see that on TV and up here in practice. That’s something I want to emulate. I want to go out and play my game. You can definitely learn from watching the guys up here and he’s one of the guys that you earn a lot from.”
The formula, it seems, is simple enough.
Crash. Bang. Block shots. Repeat.
But there’s more to it.
It takes a little something extra to get over the hump, suggested the model.
“I think just getting the confidence to play at this level,” Bouma started. “It’s probably the biggest. Knowing that you can go out there and do the same thing every night is the biggest thing. Once he gets the confidence, he’ll be fine. Once he gets that confidence, he’s going to be great.”
As Hathaway knows, those first steps can be tricky.
After his senior year at Brown, which saw the Kennebunkport, ME native record six goals and 15 points in 31 games, Hathaway signed a two-year contract with the Abbotsford Heat, making his professional debut by playing in eight games to close out the 2013-14 season.
A full year, 72 games, with the Adirondack Flames followed in 2014-15.
And following a 19 goals and 17 assists, and 77 minutes in penalties, Calgary upgraded Hathaway’s pact to an entry-level contract.
Now with a National Hockey League contract in tow, he’s got plans of playing with the Flames soon.
“Coming into last year, I couldn’t make the team, but I wanted to work my hardest to get noticed and work my hardest not to get cut,” said Hathaway, 24 in November. “I wanted to make it difficult for them and then earn an NHL contract. This year it’s different because I can make the team. I can play NHL games this year. I’m just trying to build off of that momentum from last year’s camp and last year and show them that I can do it.”
Despite the assignment to the AHL, there’s belief he can.
He just needs to continue to learn.
“Coaches are always helping and always stopping and trying to teach me all the little things that I can pick up on and how fast the game is,” Hathaway said. “Small details are the biggest up here. Everyone can skate and everyone can pass. If you turn the wrong way, you’re going to get scored on. If you don’t keep your eyes on the puck or if you don’t see the open guys behind you, you’re going to be minus-1 and that’s never good.”
Successfully modeling his game after Bouma could be the final piece.
“We tell him a lot,” coach Bob Hartley said. “We love Lance. This is a physical conference. You need those big bodies creating room for the smaller players. That’s a goal that we gave him.
“He’s fearless out there.”
And, he believes, a quick learner.
“I’m trying to play in the NHL,” started Hathaway. “That’s my dream, but I’m not there yet. I think I’ve taken steps forward, but I’m not there. I’m still working for it.”