Zach McKelvie hopes to get hockey career back on track after two years of Army service

Rookie camps feature plenty of players trying to make difficult transitions. Most are hoping to shift from either college hockey or the junior level to the minors or even a more dramatic jump to the NHL. Boston Bruins prospect Zach McKelvie faces a challenge that most won’t experience, though: going from active duty in the Army to shaking off rust as a blueliner.

The 26 year old defenseman hopes to get his legs back under him beginning at the Bruins’ rookie camp at Ristuccia Arena. The Bruins actually hoped that McKelvie would receive a release due to his hockey contract much earlier, but new Department of Defense rules prohibited him from doing so until now.

That setback hit the “Pause” button on McKelvie’s career, but the Bruins believe that he still has time to develop – and the added advantage of his speedy skating ability to make up for some of the maturation process. Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning spoke with CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty about McKelvie’s development process.

“He’s a great skater. He hasn’t played competitive hockey in a couple of years from college, but because he’s such a good skater and he moves well out there — and he’s a competitive kid — I think his timing will be off a little bit I think to start,” said Benning. “But I think once he gets his timing he could turn out to be a good player for us.”

Benning is a keen evaluator of young hockey talent, and the B’s assistant GM believes there’s still plenty of time for McKelvie to get his groove back with no hurry given Boston’s stacked stable of D-men at the NHL level.

McKelvie spoke about his experience in the Army and the mixed feelings that came with putting his career on hold.

“It was a great experience. I was an infantry officer in the army,” said McKelvie. “More than anything it was a learning experience, and getting to know the men and women that were deployed four or five times is extremely humbling and gratifying at the same time. I definitely wouldn’t trade the two years [served] for anything.

“I thought about hockey every day and I missed hockey every day, but I also took pride in wearing the US army uniform every day.”

Zach isn’t the only McKelvie hoping to make his NHL dreams come true. His twin brother Chris is a forward who split time between the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors and AHL’s Connecticut Whale in 2010-11.

Zach McKelvie’s already taken an interesting road to even make it back to Bruins rookie camp and he faces more challenges if he hopes to eventually earn NHL playing time. That being said, there’s a chance that he might face his twin brother at the sport’s highest level some day.

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.