FloHockey continues its series spotlighting six WCHA players who participated in NHL Development Camps this summer.
Northern Michigan junior winger Phil Beaulieu was enjoying the hockey life at Boston’s NHL Development Camp last month, wearing the legendary spoked “B” on his jersey, running through high tempo drills, when suddenly he realized worlds were colliding, literally.
The oddly familiar skater across from him crystalized in his mind, and memories flooded his mind like a familiar movie, causing an imperceptible throb in his now-healthy shoulder. The man he was about to engage in the battle drill was Stephen Baylis, a mainstay on the Bowling Green Falcons, the same man who injured Beaulieu’s shoulder in their hard-fought WCHA semifinal clash this past March.
“In the playoffs, he came to hit me and sprained my A.C. joint in my shoulder,” said Beaulieu, chuckling at the irony. “There were definitely drills [in Boston] we had to go against each other, it was pretty funny.”
Beaulieu soon learned that the humor had some classic hockey symmetry.
“Once we figured out who each other were, we connected a little bit,” he said.
And that was when Beaulieu learned that there was another shoulder injury in their recent history.
“Earlier this year he came to hit me, and I just protected myself [hockey translation: brought his stick up high], and he ended up spraining his shoulder. “You’re the one who sprained my A.C. joint!” said the Falcon to the Wildcat.
Once the two WCHA vets realized that their injury scoreboard was even-steven, they got along famously.
“It’s hard to hate someone that much,” Beaulieu said. “On the ice, things get heated up obviously, but off the ice, I think we’re all pretty good dudes. It was fun to have him there and talk about the WCHA and stuff like that.”
The two prospects had plenty to enjoy, receiving the royal treatment from the Bruins organization.
“They did a good job showing us around town,” Beaulieu said.
The highlight, by far, was taking in a Red Sox game at historic Fenway Park: “That was legit, Fenway is so cool, authentic ballpark, original seats, it was so packed. It’s fun to watch good baseball.”
For the record, the club known locally as “the Olde Towne Team” beat Anaheim to remain in first place in the American League East. In addition to their Major League entertainment, Beaulieu, Baylis, and the rest of the Bruins prospects did some quality team building with a Navy Seal operation and a good old paintball blitz.
#25 Philip Beaulieu
N. Michigan Wildcats
Hometown: Duluth, Minnesota
Last Team: Madison (USHL)
2017-18 Point Scoring
But it was four miles west along Boston’s historic Charles River, at the gleaming new Warrior Ice Center, where these prospects applied their craft and had their minds molded from a week of intense training. And although they did not formally interact with the current Bruins stars, the NHL pros certainly influenced the hearts and minds of these wide-eyed college kids.
“We got to see all these high NHL players walking around,” Beaulieu said. “Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, (Charlie) McAvoy, they’re all just lean machines, they’re huge. They have their own kitchen, chefs, all this great food available, and they need it. Nutrition, sleep, and conditioning, (Bruins G.M.) Don Sweeney preached it. You’ve got to be doing everything to make sure you’re the best, you’ve got to be able to produce. It’s very exciting because it’s not that far away; it’s an attainable thing.”
Then Beaulieu soberly addressed the 800-pound gorilla in the room. “It’s one thing to know what to do, but can you do it?”
After bonding over a week-long hockey fantasy in the heart of sports-mad Boston, the two WCHA rivals returned to their respective college campuses in the Midwest, preparing to resume their battle for the prestigious Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, and a ticket to the NCAA championships.
Upcoming WCHA Prospect Check-Ins:
Cooper Zech, Ferris State — Washington Capitals
Steve Ruggiero, Lake Superior State — Anaheim Ducks
Jake Jaremko, Minnesota State — Nashville Predators
Jake Jackson, Michigan Tech — San Jose Sharks