It's a lifelong dream fulfilled for Chris Bourque

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It's a lifelong dream fulfilled for Chris Bourque

BOSTON -- Chris Bourque had already played hockey games on the TD Garden ice. Hed experienced the glorious high of potting an overtime game-winner to deliver a Beanpot championship for his Boston University team, and even scored against the Bruins in a preseason game while he was property of the Washington Capitals.

But neither of those moments came anywhere close to approaching Saturday night, when he suited up in the Black-and-Gold NHL colors of his Hall of Fame father, Ray, and took a regular shift with Bostons third line in a playoff-like 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers.

Bourque missed on becoming part of the score sheet when he flubbed a chance at an open-net goal in the final minutes of the third period, floating the shot high over the vacant net.

I need the goalie to be in there to score that, cracked Bourque with a knowing grin that he should have had it.

But the little boy inside Bourque that grew up cheering for his father, idolizing Cam Neely and becoming a normal visitor to the Bs dressing room was in something close to hockey heaven, anyway.

It was great. I think Ive said it a couple times this week, but it kind of felt a little bit surreal, said Bourque, who logged 12:46 of ice time and finished with a minus-1 rating on the night. Obviously it was a moment that Ive been dreaming of as a little kid and to finally get that first game out of the way was really exciting for me.

Chris Hall of Fame dad, his wife, his young child and a host of other family members and friends were waiting in the family room after the victory, and made it feel all the more intimate as Bourque talked about donning the Bs sweater. Ray and Chris became the fifth fatherson combo to both don the Black and Gold in the Bruins organization, and joined the Bennetts (Harvey and Bill), DeMarcos (Albert G. and Albert T.), the Grahames (Ron and John) and the Hodges (Ken R. and Ken D.) in the Bs history books follow Saturday nights debut.

At times coach Claude Julien played the mix-and-match game with the third line and inserted Daniel Paille at the left wing spot when he pitted Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley against one of New Yorks top two lines. But Bourque got 2:42 of power play time and said the nearly 13 minutes of time on ice was by far the most ice time hes received in an NHL game.

In typical Bruins fashion, Bourque said he was focusing on defense first when he was out on the ice. He finished without a shot on net and wasnt able to help break through on a Bs power play that went 0-for-7 in the game, so there are still some areas to work on.

But given his obvious skill displayed at the AHL level -- and his talented linemates in Peverley and Kelly the offense should come for a player still looking to prove it at the NHL level.

I really tried to focus on making the simple plays and chipping it out and being good and solid defensively. If you do that then everything else will kind of fall into place, said Bourque. I maybe focused on a little bit more tonight on defense, and as the season goes on Ill get more comfortable hopefullythats when plays happen. Youve got to think defense first, and then everything else falls into place.

The opening act of Bourques time with the Bruins was a promising one, and now hell dig into the tantalizing task of finding out exactly how good he can be given a legit chance to shine in his hometown of Boston.

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.