Dougie Hamilton may have had to wait a little too long to make his Bruins debut, but now that it’s come and gone he’s just happy to officially be an NHL  defenseman.
Hamilton, who spent the first few months of the season playing junior hockey in the OHL and the World Junior Championships, took his first NHL  shift with the Bruins on the power play early in the first period. Before that, he was welcomed with one of the loudest receptions in the pre-game player introductions, accompanied with massive sprays of fog as he stepped onto the Garden ice.
“It was pretty cool, just with the smoke or fog or whatever that was,” Hamilton said. “It’s pretty cool to go out there, and you don’t really hear much of the cheering, but it’s pretty cool to go out and look around and realize that your dream has come true.”
Hamilton finished last among Bruins defensemen with 13:40 of ice time, but he played 4:25 on the power play and registered two shots on goal and three hits on the night with an even rating.
It may be a big adjustment from junior hockey to the NHL , but Hamilton is embracing the physical challenge that comes with it. At 6-foot-5, Hamilton felt that he couldn’t play a physical game at the junior level without getting penalized. He felt he had the opportunity to use his body more to his advantage Saturday against the bigger-bodied Rangers.
“I thought that was fun, just getting hit by those big guys and having them come at you and just being able to hit them too,” he said. “It’s a little bit different in junior when you can’t do much or they’re smaller than you, so I thought that was a pretty fun part of the game.”
“I experienced it in juniors coaching [6-foot-5 defenseman] Jiri Fischer at the time; he was the same kind of player, he was in the box a lot in junior because he was so much stronger than everybody else. And when I watched Dougie play this year in junior if there’s one thing you could tell was his size, you know at 6-foot-5 and in the corners he had to watch himself because again they’re not as strong. If he wasn’t careful he’d end up in the box.
“Here he doesn’t have to hold back, and I think he’ll be able to play more to his strength and it will certainly help his game. Like I said, he needed to move on and I think what he’s done here is enough for him to stay here at the time being.”