He didn’t get the Eastern Conference All-Star berth that went to the only player ahead of him, Jamie Arniel, on the Providence (AHL) farm club’s scoring chart right now.
But Zach Hamill has still had a huge hand in the P-Bruins’ season turnaround.
Providence, winner of two of three games last week, went into the All-Star break three points back of Connecticut for fourth place in the Atlantic Division after spending much of the previous two months in last place. The P-Bruins also hold two games in hand on The Whale.
Life’s a lot easier for a team like Providence when a first-round pick from four years ago begins to play like a first-line center. And head coach Rob Murray counts Hamill’s emergence between rookie Jordan Caron and veteran Jeremy Reich as one of the main reasons the P-Bruins have salvaged their season.
Hamill’s hotter hand has allowed Joe Colborne to settle in as the P-Bruins’ second-line center between Max Sauve and Arniel.
“I go out there and be more confident, be more creative and work with my linemates,” said Hamill after a big P-Bruins win over Portland over the weekend. “We’ve been pretty good together, trying to build some chemistry. But I just go out there and try to work hard, try to be consistent and make plays. If you don’t score, at least you’re getting good chances.”
In 44 games, Hamill now has three goals and 25 assists. While you might expect him to find the back of the net a little more, Hamill’s obviously filling his projected long-term role as a playmaker to a tee. He has missed three games this season — two because of a visa problem getting back to the U.S. after Christmas, and one as a healthy scratch.
It was a bit controversial for Murray to sit Hamill Oct. 30. But at the time the center had produced just one assist in seven games. Since then, Hamill has turned things around, including a 16-point December.
“Obviously, I work every day and obviously learn and take experiences and go from there. We’re just trying to keep this going and if we win or we lose, just trying to keep it positive,” said Hamill.
Although Marc Savard’s situation with Boston could open up a job, Hamill said he no longer looks at the big picture because he knows it can distract him from his task at hand. If he continues to focus the way he has the last couple months, he might get to add to his NHL games-played total (which stands at one) before this last year of his entry-level contract is through.
Veteran Kirk MacDonald posted 2-2-4 totals and a plus-4 rating over the weekend. … Defenseman Jeff Penner posted 1-1-2 totals and a plus-3 rating in three games. … Goaltender Nolan Schaefer stopped 80 of 87 shots (.920 save percentage) over the three games.
Although he recorded one goal, one assist and a plus-4 rating in the All-Star Classic, Arniel hasn’t scored a regular-season goal in 16 games. … Defenseman Yury Alexandrov snapped a nine-game point-less drought but still has just one assist in his last 12 games.
Forward Antoine Roussel was assigned to Reading (ECHL) during the All-Star break.
Friday, Feb. 4 vs. Springfield
Saturday, Feb. 5 at Worcester
Sunday, Feb. 6 at Charlotte