Second-Year Pro Targets Trip to NHL

When you first meet Zach Hamill, the Boston Bruins first round, eighth overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, you can see that he is a very determined guy who strives to be the best that he can be.

The young superstar got involved in the game early in life.

"I just followed my brother and when he started to play hockey, I started to play also around the age of three or four," said Hamill. "I started off with roller hockey and ice hockey and I just put them together."

On June 22, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio, Hamill got some news that would change his life. He was going to be a professional hockey player.

"Draft day was a very nerve-racking day for me. When I heard my named called it was a relief and a really special moment. It was a real fun day for both me and my family."

"Zach is a guy with a lot of pressure on him being a first round pick." Providence Bruins head coach Rob Murray said.

"The most pressure comes from a fan point of view. You get a lot of question from Bruins fans up in Boston - When is Zach Hamill going to be ready? As an organization, we all know that it is going to be a long process from him and we don't want to rush him. His progression is going fine."

Hamill is enjoying his second full season with the P-Bruins, and is looking to gain experience every day.

"Experience, as you get older, the more confidence you get and the more experienced in the league you will be," Hamill said about the difference between last year and this year. "Every year you want to get better."

Hamill is on his way to making himself a better player. In his rookie year with the P-Bruins, he missed the first 15 games of the season and then played in 81 consecutive games, including a 16-game playoff run. He had 26 points (13g, 13a), which put him fourth in points among rookies on the team. This year, Hamill has played in 55 regular season games with 33 points (12g, 21a), already eclipsing his career-highs in points and assists with still nearly two months of the season left to be played.

Trent Whitfield, who is someone who has made a living in both the AHL and NHL, had some pleasant words about the young star.

"He is a young kid that is learning the pro game. It's only his second year, so he is learning what it takes to play every night." Whitfield said. "It takes time. He came from a junior team where he had a lot of success, and then he came in the AHL as a first-rounder. There are a lot of expectations from him. Sometimes it takes a little while to get to where you have to be. He is learning that he has to relax and things will come to him. I think right now we are starting to see him progress into that next stage. He is playing well as of late and we need that down the stretch."

Playing for the P-Bruins, Hamill has seen teammates go back and forth from the AHL and the NHL. Hamill is a smart kid off the ice, and he realizes it's his teammates that he has to learn from to get ready to gear up for the next level.

"Adam (McQuaid), Trent and Drew (Larman) lead by example and they are people who you want to learn from," said Hamill of his team's leaders. "They know what it takes to get to the next level, so it is important to watch their game."

Hamill is not taking anything for granted and has his head coach to thank for that.

"Coach Murray is just so competitive. He expects the best out of you every night. He wants to develop you not only as a player but as a person. It's good to have him on your side."

"In the minors you are looking for progression." Murray said. "Whether it is a huge leap or not, it is important that you just keep getting better each year. I look at it that way."

Hamill understands that as well.

"You want to take care of what you've got to do on game days. Work hard and just doing what you have to do," Hamill said as he got ready to take the ice for practice. "Make sure that you are on top of your game."

Hamill waits eagerly to hear the great news from Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli that it's his time to play in the NHL. That's a call that every minor leaguer hopes to receive and he's on his way to making that happen.