Providence Bruins’ training camp attendees took part in the first of two intrasquad scrimmages Saturday morning at the Rhode Island Sports Center. While each group turned-out some solid performances, defenseman Zach Trotman’s hat trick highlighted the game – which Team Black won, 5-1.
Trotman, (who describes himself as more of a ‘two-way guy’ than an offensive-defenseman) the rookie pro who spent three seasons at Lake Superior State, tallied two goals in the first of two 28-minute periods – and added another (plus an assist) in the second-half.
While the first and third goals appeared to be possible re-directions or deflections, the second was an absolute dagger of a wrister from the top of the right circle off a nice feed from Matt Pistilli. However, all three of his other points came off of well-directed and heavy point-shots.
Pistilli earned one of Team Black’s other two goals via a Trotman rebound and Chris Bourque fired-home a wrister from the high-slot to make it five.
The Bruins’ rookie never passed-up on an opportunity to shoot. He put close to ten pucks on-net, many thanks to deft setups from David Warsofsky. After the game he told me, “It helps that all the forwards are giving me real good passes, giving me time while they [hold the opposing defenders] down-low and I have time to see where everything’s at and find a lane through to the net… give the forwards a chance to tip it or get a rebound.”
His teammates certainly noticed the auspicious start. Trotman said with a smile, “They were laughing… [Defenseman Kevan] Miller came up to me and said ‘why don’t you just get the hat-trick’ and I go out there and put the next one in.”
Trotman played nine games with Providence to end the 2011-12 season, and he believes that experience has aided his transformation into a full-time pro: “It definitely takes some of the nerves out of it… You’re a little less worried because you know what guys are going to be like and you have a mindset for what the plays are going to be like, it gives you confidence.”
The former last-overall-pick (#210 in 2010) wasn’t the only impressive performer on the day. Several other blueliners seemed to be in midseason form. Warsofsky (who possesses a cannon of his own) stole a few pucks and distributed well from the back end. Torey Krug’s tremendous awareness and puck-moving game was on-display (the 5’9 D-man also brought some physicality). Ryan Button demonstrated some great offensive zone decision-making and poise.
Additionally, Tommy Cross’ mobility and outlet-game were eye-opening. In my opinion, he’s made significant strides in both areas since his final Development Camp during the summer. After the scrimmage, he said: “I’ve been working on getting back for pucks quicker, and getting your head around and seeing what’s available… just stuff that you do every year.”
Regarding his skating, Cross implied that he made an effort over the summer, but “…there’s nothing like game-speed.”
Team White’s lone goal came off the stick of Alden Hirschfeld, who beat Mike Hutchinson glove-side from the low slot in the first. Hirschfeld, formerly of Miami of Ohio, was fed by former-now-current teammate Carter Camper from behind the net. Jordan Caron’s effort winning the puck behind the goal-line earned him a secondary assist on the play.
Highly-touted rookie forwards Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight brought consistent effort to the ice Saturday, but were held pointless. Spooner centered Chris Bourque and Max Sauve for most of the morning while Knight joined Bobby Robins on Trent Whitfield’s wing.
The Bruins will play another scrimmage tomorrow morning as the competition for jobs heats-up. Thirty-four players can’t make it all the way – tough decisions lie ahead for the staff and management.
Follow Bob Mand on Twitter at @HockeyMand