Kampfer adds to his admirers
Defender a hit in rookie season
In his four seasons as one of the University of Michigan’s premier defensemen, Steven Kampfer scored seven goals. Total.
Last night, Kampfer, a 22-year-old rookie with the Bruins, notched his fourth goal of the season, topping his best collegiate season by one. His goal was also the winner as the Bruins dragged home an unruly 7-5 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Seven goals were scored in the third period, five by the Bruins, as they took and gave away the lead with recklessness and moxie. It was messy, but they never stopped churning out chances, least of all the earnest defender from Jackson, Mich.
Kampfer, 5 feet 11 inches and 197 pounds, still looks the part of a youngster. But he complements that youthfulness with confidence. He grinned when he said his agent once told him he’d have more fun in the bigs.
“I don’t think I ever pictured being here, not in the NHL this quick,’’ admitted Kampfer, called up from Providence Dec. 8 after Mark Stuart broke his arm. “It was unfortunate that Stu got hurt. But it made an opportunity and I’m just trying to make the most of it now. I’m just trying to help this team win.’’
Kampfer was acquired last March in a trade with the Ducks for a conditional fourth-round pick. Bruins coach Claude Julien said he knew Kampfer was a good skater and that he could move the puck well. Julien didn’t know how well Kampfer would fit in with the big club.
Paired with Zdeno Chara, Kampfer has filled a hole on the Boston blue line.
“It’s nice to see young guys coming here and playing the same way they have in college, or juniors, or even Providence,’’ said Chara. “Sometimes you don’t see those kind of personalities in young players coming into the teams or into the league, and not being just afraid to make mistakes. He’s playing relaxed and he’s not afraid to really take the puck and carry it and make plays.’’
Kampfer got the chance to settle last night’s free-for-all with the Flyers, and finished it with a flourish. An unassisted game-winner.
With two minutes left in the third, the Bruins still trailed by a goal, though they had scored three times in the period. Kampfer collected a puck along the right boards in the Flyers’ zone and flung it toward the net. His easy wrister sailed over Brian Boucher’s stick into the top left corner at 18:46. Gregory Campbell’s empty-netter followed.
“I saw [Flyer Matt Carle] rimming the puck around the wall,’’ said Kampfer. “I had a jump on the guys, the forward up on the red line, so I just jumped in, I just tried to get a shot on net and I was fortunate enough to beat [Boucher] far-side high.’’
Kampfer was equally pumped about a hit he put on Scott Hartnell early in the third period, a move he made after watching from the bench as the Bruins gave up the lead.
“I’m not going to lie, I was a little mad that we had the lead at the beginning of the third and we gave it right back,’’ Kampfer said. “Personally, I thought something needed to change and when I saw Hartnell coming down [the ice] with his head down there, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to step up and put a hit on him, and try and get this crowd back in the game.’’
Julien called it character. “It’s impressive,’’ said Julien. “Sometimes I think we forget a lot of the good things this team does. They’re very resilient, they don’t quit.
“Young guys like Kampfer want to be part of that group and they want to be part of the group that helps this team succeed. His first game, Kampfer threw one of those hits right off the bat. He wanted to make a statement and he did again, tonight.’’