November 10, 2011

Confident Hamill hopes third time's the charm

by Jesse Connolly

Zach Hamill leads the P-Bruins with ten points through 14 games this season. (Getty)

BOSTON – If ever a guy hoped that the third time was indeed the charm, it’s Bruins prospect Zach Hamill.

The former eighth overall pick was recalled by the B’s on an emergency basis on Wednesday. It’s promotion No. 3 to the big club for Hamill, who has followed up a strong showing during the exhibition season with a stellar start down in Providence.

“I thought it was pretty good,” Hamill said of his performance at camp. “I thought I was creating chances and I felt really good skating and strength-wise. I kind of took that down to Providence. It was a little bit of a slow start, but I kind of picked it up there and used all those things I worked on during the summer and used it to my advantage.”

Through 14 games, the 23-year-old forward led the P-Bruins with five goals and ten points – a considerable step up from the nine goals he buried in 68 games a season ago.

“I’m starting to shoot the puck more and going to the net more,” Hamill said. “It’s two things I wanted to key on. It’s definitely something I look at. At the same time, I’m just trying to take pucks to the net more and not make that fancy play.”

Now in the fourth year of his entry-level contract, the Vancouver native and former leading scorer in the WHL is on top of his game and brimming with confidence.

“Honestly, yeah,” Hamill said when asked if this is the most confident he’s ever been as a pro. “I’ve been playing a lot of minutes on the power play, penalty kill, 5-on-5 and all situations. If I’m not scoring, I’m out killing penalties, blocking shots and doing the little things to help us win.”

He’s also made a successful transition to wing after playing center for majority of his career.

“I think I’ve played less than five shifts at center (this season), so I’ve been playing right wing pretty much the whole time,” he said. “It’s been pretty good. Obviously ‘Butch’ (Providence coach Bruce Cassidy) has been showing confidence in me and I appreciate that. I’m just trying to work hard and show him I can do those things.”

The 5-foot-11 forward said he paid close attention to how players similar to him in style and stature man the position.

“The first couple days it was a little bit different, but I worked on some things and tried to watch NHL games to see how smaller guys play the right wing and guys like me play,” Hamill said. “It’s been pretty good.”

Hamill will only see action this evening and possibly throughout the length of his call-up if injured winger Rich Peverley isn’t ready to go. Should that be the case, Bruins coach Claude Julien has the utmost faith that the 2007 draftee can provide the performance the team needs.

“I went and saw him play two, three weekends ago and to me he was our best player,” Julien said of a recent trip down to Providence to watch Boston’s farm team play. “That night, it was our third game in three nights and I really liked the way he played. He’s been playing the wing this year and he’s making good plays and to me he was technically pretty sound and I thought he was competing well.”

With two assists in four career NHL games, Hamill has yet to find the back of the net during his first pair of recalls. But if he can replicate his hot start down in Providence during this stint, that first strike might be just around the corner.