Experienced Cross taking a leadership role among B's prospects

Experienced Cross taking a leadership role among B's prospects
June 30, 2012, 8:20 pm
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WILMINGTON, Mass. Tommy Cross is finally ready for his Bruins Development Camp graduation.

The Boston College defensemen and Connecticut native was a part of the first development camp six years ago that included Milan Lucic and David Krejci, and has been tracked by the Bruins through his hockey career at the Heights.

In fact Bruins third round pick Matthew Grzelcyk remembered Cross being on the ice as he sat in the Ristuccia Arena stands a couple of years ago watching development camp as a 16-year-old Bruins fan.

That kind of makes Cross feel like the old guy at prospect camp, doesnt it?

ReallyGrzelcyk said that? said Cross. Wow, I guess that does make me feel a little old. Thanks for telling me that.

Development camp has been a great learning tool for me. It just so happened that I came to the first one when I was 17 years old and went to college for four years. I wouldnt change that experience at all.

In truth thats the kind of veteran presence that a strong, tough, stay-at-home defenseman prospect like Cross needs to exhibit, and will suit him well in the world of pro hockey after getting two AHL games under his belt at the end of last season.

Now the 22-year-old Cross is signed, sealed and delivered to the Bruins, and hes likely headed to the Providence Bruins for some AHL seasoning while preparing for a run at an NHL job. Cross helped the Eagles to a pair of NCAA championships and overcame knee injuries that hampered his development in college, and now the Bruins are hoping that the 6-foot-3, 195-pound bruiser develops that same winning aura in the pros as he did in college.

The guys in the AHL are older and its a little bit of a controlled style, said Cross, who put up 24 points in 44 games for Boston College last season. College hockey was a great place to learn, grow and prepare myself for a new level.

Much of that starts with attitude. Cross showed plenty of that in Saturdays practice session as he got tangled up with Jared Knight by the boards during a battle drill, and both players got in a little stick-work and shoving before heading back toward the benches.

Cross gave Knight a long glare at the end of the exchange, and thats exactly the kind of physicality, grit and attitude the Bruins are looking for out of the physically impressive defenseman.

Its good for Tommy. For him to be a National Hockey League player hes going to have to develop a bit of that edge. Knight is a guy that naturally bowls his way toward the net. Thats just the way he plays and Tommy is going to have to stop those kinds of players, said Cassidy. Its good for him to show some push-back and if he develops that side of his game that will be a good thing for him.

Providence Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said hed encourage Cross to watch video of Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg if hes looking for directions to take his on-ice game.

His first AHL game he was a little tentative, and we had a little chat about what he had to do better. That second game he was crisper, he was snapping passes and physical when he needed to be, said Cassidy. It was night and day, but its too small a sample size to say what well be getting out of him. But we need more of that second game guy.

Hes a very mature guy, hes a winner and I think hes going to figure it out. Whether hes good enough, who knows? But thats the game he needs to bring to us. Because hes a big-bodied guy he can be a Seidenberg-type player where he physically moves guys and can make that good first pass.

Nobody is expecting Cross to immediately show signs of German engineering in his game like Seidenberg, but thats a pretty lofty goal to shoot for a Boston College kid looking to make an impact in the Bs organization.