BOSTON – It wasn’t the perfect outcome, or exactly how he probably dreamt it would go down growing up on the streets of Charlestown in the shadow of the home of the Bruins, but Matt Grzelcyk finally got to wear the Black and Gold in front of friends and family at TD Garden.
The former Boston University standout was on the ice for a couple of goals against in a rough 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night and clearly had a little bit of culture shock adjusting from NCAA hockey to the speed and intensity of a preseason NHL game.
The 22-year-old admitted as much after slowly showing during the game that he was getting more accustomed to the speed, power and precision of NHL opponents playing with purpose.
“I think maybe I was a little bit shocked coming out there. The speed of the game is obviously noticeably faster. But I think as time went on I felt a little more comfortable out there, and was able to skate pucks out of trouble. Hopefully I can build on that going forward,” said Grzelcyk. “It was obviously really exciting to get out there. I was a little bit nervous for the game and stuff and [had to] get the jitters out. But it was nice to get my first game under my belt.”
The puck-moving defenseman had tons of friends and family in the stands including his father, John, who usually works on the bull gang making sure the Garden sheet is in tip-top shape for games such as Wednesday night’s affair. So, it was natural for the nerves to be there despite “Grizz” suiting up for plenty of Beanpot games at the Garden as a member of the Terriers, but they went away as the game went along.
He picked up an assist on Boston’s only goal after working the puck up to Ryan Spooner prior to him feeding Austin Czarnik for the score. Then it was about simply playing the game, and showing where his level of play is right now as the Bruins evaluate all of their D-men. Grzelcyk had the point and he logged a solid 19:49 of ice time while finishing with a minus-1 rating and a couple of shots on net.
So, there were some positives for the local kid and some things to work on as he gets ready for some seasoning in the AHL when cuts eventually come in this B’s camp.
“I think it was a night where, as the game went on, he got better. I thought his third period was the best period he had, and as the game progressed, he started to feel a little bit more confident out there,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “He was skating. He was avoiding… being able to escape some of the breakouts, and it’s his first game in a Bruins uniform back at home here, so I’m sure at the beginning he was probably fighting some nerves. I’m sure it was a special night for him in that regard, but I thought he got better as the game went on.”
The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder will clearly take that the first time out, but clearly Grzelcyk will be looking to show the abilities that saw him post 20 goals and 61 points over his past two seasons at BU as a talented offensive D-man looking to help sooner rather than later.