EAST MEADOW, N.Y. - Like all sons of NHL players, New York Islanders prospect Kieffer Bellows wanted to be like his dad.
Brian Bellows was the second player selected in the 1982 NHL Draft. He had 485 goals and 537 assists in 1,188 games between the Minnesota North Stars, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Washington Capitals. He retired in 1999, one year after his son was born.
Kieffer has a long way to go to have the type of career his father had, but he took another step at the 2016 NHL Draft when the Islanders used their first-round pick (No. 19) to select the 6-foot, 197-pound left wing.
"There's pros and there's cons," Bellows said at Northwell Health Ice Center on Wednesday during Islanders minicamp. "Of course, you're under a lot more pressure with your dad being an NHLer. The pros are that he's always going to be there through the pressure and he's going to be there to support you, because he had to deal with pressure in his day. He can give me experience, give me life lessons on it."
Brian Bellows said he never pushed his son to be a hockey player, and he sympathizes with the difficult path Kieffer is following in his attempt to play in the NHL.
"I think at times it's probably been tough for him," Brian Bellows told NHL.com. "But I don't think at any time as a family we put pressure on him to succeed. We're always trying to support him.
"For kids these days, I think it's a lot harder. There's so much media, there's so much social media, they never have a time to really get away. I think it's important to have a good family to help them to lean on, so the pressure doesn't accumulate."
Kieffer Bellows was projected to be a first-round pick, and anxiety set in hours before he and his family headed to First Niagara Center in Buffalo. He relied heavily on his father to help get him through the day.
"I tried napping, and it didn't really work," Bellows said. "I was too excited for the night. I woke up and (my dad) was right there. He just said, 'Are you excited?' I said, 'I'm thrilled.' He goes, 'Good, because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You don't get to experience it twice.' He said, 'Just go with it. Whoever is lucky enough to get you has a good kid,' and I was lucky enough to go to the New York Islanders.
"I was pretty nervous just sitting there, not knowing where you're going to go. You've got a feeling with the range, but as soon as you hear your name called, it's pretty surreal. It's pretty special just going up there and hugging your mom, your dad, my sisters … I mean, they've been with me through everything, all my ups and downs in my career. I can't thank them enough."
Bellows had 16 goals, 16 assists, 41 penalty minutes and a plus-17 rating for the U.S. National Under-18 Team this season. He is expected to attend Islanders training camp in September, and barring a chance to play in the NHL as an 18-year-old, he will go on to play for Boston University.
"I'd say I'm a power forward that loves to shoot the puck and loves to score goals," said Bellows, who added he likes to emulate Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn. "[I'm] a guy that is not afraid to play a physical game and isn't afraid to go into the dirty areas."
Brian Bellows said he sees some similarities in his son's game from his days as one of the better scorers in the NHL during his time. Brian scored a career-high 55 goals for the North Stars in 1989-90.
"The way he hangs around the faceoff (circles), I see that," the elder Bellows said. "He shoots the puck way better than I did. A lot of these kids are so much more talented, but I see that part. I see the fact that he can score from anywhere. I love that. Forehand-backhand in the crease, 10 feet out, 25 feet out, those kind of similarities. You just can't have one dimension. You've got to have more."
Islanders fans got to see their latest prospect for the first time Wednesday during the annual Blue and White scrimmage. He received a loud ovation when he was announced in the starting lineup, which he hopes will be the first of many in his career.
"It's been pretty exciting," Bellows said. "I've been getting to know a lot of new guys and just getting to meet the staff for the Islanders, and just being here at this great facility has been really fun. They take good care of you. It's just really exciting. It's unbelievable."