“Being from the same hometown, it was a little battle,” Bourque said. “I’ve seen him around, going against him in the summer, and it was fun.”
It was a whirlwind week for the former Phillips Andover and Masconomet standout. He’d played 33 games in the AHL, with 12 points, and was asserting himself physically with 55 penalty minutes. He had less than a week of training camp time with the Rangers before Saturday’s game.
“Lot of information. Still a lot to learn, though being up for a little while last year helps,” said Kreider, who flew back to New York Saturday night to open Madison Square Garden with a 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh.
Kreider signed with the Rangers days after winning his second national title at BC last spring. He got into the playoffs when Carl Hagelin was suspended in the first round series against Ottawa and played so well that he had to keep a spot in the lineup. His 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame, tremendous shot and world class skating have Rangers fans excited to watch him grow up in front of their eyes.
“I thought he skated very well in camp and I’m anxious to see him play,” Tortorella, who played at Salem State for a season in 1977, told the media before Saturday’s game. “We know his strengths and to have him and Hagelin in the same lineup, the way they skate, it just ups your team’s tempo. Hopefully he can be consistent with it.”
Sharing the moment with family and friends among the sellout crowd of 17,565 at the Garden — “There’s so many people here tonight, I couldn’t go over them all,” he said — was something Kreider will always be grateful for. He said he thinks about his journey from the halls of Masconomet, playing for coach Bill Blackwell with best friend Keaton Cashin, to the pro’s every day.