By Sam Laskaris
ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA – Owen Headrick is about to get his first taste of life as a National Hockey League player.
The 20-year-old defenceman, a member of northern Ontario’s Garden River First Nation, has been invited to the Boston Bruins’ rookie camp, which includes a four-team Prospects Challenge in Buffalo.
The Bruins’ camp open Thursday morning in Boston. The 27 camp invitees will then fly to Buffalo later that day for a practice.
The Bruins’ squad will then play three contests. For starters they’ll square off against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Boston will then battle the host Buffalo Sabres on Saturday followed by a Monday match versus the New Jersey Devils.
“I’m excited to be able to play against some of the best guys in the world,” Headrick said. “I’m going to try not to be too overwhelmed.”
The majority of those representing the Bruins at this rookie camp have been selected by Boston either this year or in a recent NHL Entry Draft.
But Headrick, one of 10 defencemen taking part, was invited to the camp by the Bruins’ brass. His Toronto-based agent Murray Kuntz texted Headrick with the invite news in early August.
“I wasn’t really expecting it,” said Headrick, who was a member of the Pennsylvania-based Erie Otters that captured the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) championship this past spring. “I was pretty excited. I was with my dad in the car when I got the text from my agent. We were on our way to go to play in a summer men’s league in (Sault Ste. Marie).”
Headrick is hoping to turn some heads at the Bruins’ camp.
“I’m just going to go there and play my game and hopefully make a lasting impression,” he said.
Headrick said he has not been told yet how many of the matches he’ll be suiting up for at the Prospects Challenge.
“I’d be happy to play all three games,” he said. “Playing in two would be pretty awesome too.”
Ideally, Headrick is hoping that he fares well enough to earn an invite to the Bruins’ main training camp, which starts next Thursday.
Whether he does get to attend that camp for awhile or not, Headrick is fully expecting to return to the Otters where he’ll be playing the majority of his 2017-18 campaign.
He’s already reported to the Otters’ camp and has been with the team during its pre-season. For Headrick this marks his final year of junior eligibility.
Headrick joined the Erie squad this past January. He had spent the previous one and a half seasons with the Michigan-based Lake Superior State University Lakers.
Though he was on a full athletic scholarship, Headrick opted to leave university and suit up for the Otters, sensing the OHL would give him a better opportunity to eventually fulfill his dream of playing pro.
Headrick appeared in 26 regular season games with the Otters last season and earned eight points, including four goals. He also chipped in with four assists in 22 playoff matches.
Headrick is expecting he’ll have plenty of family support cheering him on in Buffalo. His parents Anne and Dave and his grandparents will be making the trip.
He also anticipates three of his four siblings – brothers Nathan and Evan and sister Mya – will show up.
Headrick’s other sister Jana is in her second year of University of Toronto studies and not expected to make the trip.