WILMINGTON, Mass. — Dougie Hamilton is still getting used to his new Bruins teammates in his first pro camp. A couple of the guys on the opposition for his first pro game will be a little more familiar.
Hamilton and the rest of the Bruins prospects will head to Long Island for a pair of rookie games against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Monday and Tuesday. The Islanders' rookie squad features a pair of players from Hamilton's Ontario Hockey League squad in Niagara.
Center Ryan Strome, who was taken by the Isles four spots ahead of Hamilton in this June's draft, and center Mitchell Theoret, a seventh-round selection, were battling side by side with Hamilton for the IceDogs just a few short months ago. There's a good chance they'll be back together in Niagara again this season, but for the next couple days they'll be on opposing squads as they each get their first taste of pro hockey action.
"It's going to be kind of cool to see your teammates on the other side," Hamilton said after Sunday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. "They're kind of going through the same things as you. It will be fun going into the corner with them, too."
The corners aren't the only place Hamilton's once and possibly future teammates should watch themselves.
"I'm sure if he has his head down coming across the middle, I'll take him down," Hamilton said of Strome earlier this week. "It should be fun."
Hamilton isn't the only Bruin rookie who will find himself taking on a former teammate. Forward Craig Cunningham finished his final year of junior hockey in Portland of the Western Hockey League last year after a midseason trade from Vancouver. He joined a Winterhawks squad led by Nino Niederreiter, the Islanders' first-round pick (5th overall) in 2010.
"I played with Niederreiter this year," Cunningham said. "[He's a] big guy, lots of skill, so I'm looking forward to playing against him this year."
Cunningham's reunion with Niederreiter won't be quite as awkward as Hamilton's possible collisions with Strome and Theoret. Cunningham and Niederreiter were teammates for less than a season, and Cunningham doesn't have any more junior eligibility so they won't be playing again in Portland after camp. Instead, Cunningham is eager to test himself against the highly-skilled forward who has a good shot at making the Islanders this season.
"I don't think it will be too strange," Cunningham said. "I've actually played against him for two years before [being traded to Portland], and only had a half a year with him. I look forward to playing him again. He's a great player and it's always a challenge going up against him."
Bruins forward Tyler Randell is also eager to go up against a familiar foe, as he prepared for camp by working out with Islanders prospect Justin DiBennedetto. Considering the fact that Randell was among the OHL leaders with 19 fighting majors last year, this encounter might not be as friendly.
"I skate with DiBenedetto all summer," Randell said. "We have battles all summer. It's definitely going to be fun to play against him in this game."
Some familiar faces on the Islanders roster might add a little spice to the matchups, but the biggest thing for all the Bruins hopefuls is the chance to don that spoked-B.
"It's going to be cool," Hamilton said. "I'll be putting the Bruins jersey on for the first time, which will be pretty special."
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