It was a homecoming for Boston Bruins’ forward Jay Pandolfo during Saturday afternoon’s 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Massachusetts native has played in front of the Garden crowd before, but never for the team he grew up rooting for- until Saturday.
“It’s a great feeling,” said veteran forward Pandolfo. “Growing up watching these guys my whole life… to get a chance at the end of my career to wear a Bruins uniform, I take pride in it. I couldn’t ask for a better situation with this group of guys. It’s a great team, we’ve got a chance to contend for the Stanley Cup and that’s all you can ask for.”
The Bruins are Pandolfo’s third career NHL team. The Bruins acquired Pandolfo from free agency on February 12th of this year. He came to Boston on a pro try-out agreement, and remained with the team after signing a one-year contract.
Jay Pandolfo’s hockey roots began locally, with Pandolfo playing for the Burlington High School Red Devils for three years, and racking up 87 goals and 91 assists. Pandolfo stayed in Massachusetts and started playing for Boston University. With the Terriers, he scored 78 goals and had a total of 167 career points. He was the Hockey East leader in points and the Hockey East player of the year in his final season with Boston University.
Pandolfo was drafted by the New Jersey Devils 32nd overall in the 1993 NHL entry draft. He started his professional career with the New Jersey Devils in 1996 and played his last season with them in 2010. In his time with the Devils, he helped his team win a pair of Stanley Cup Championships in both 2000 and 2003. However, Pandolfo remained in Massachusetts during the previous NHL lockout in 2005, taking a position at Burlington High as the assistant coach.
After parting ways with the Devils in 2010, Pandolfo went on to play for the New York Islanders for a season, where he was a veteran on a very young roster. In his NHL career, he’s played in 882 games with 100 goals and 126 assists.
Saturday afternoon’s game against the Lightning marked only the second time Pandolfo had played for the Bruins. But Pandolfo seems to be happy about his role within the Bruins organization.
“I know exactly what my role is on this team and I’m totally fine with that,” said Pandolfo. “We’ve got a really good team here so to be part of that, that’s a great thing.”
He logged in some ice time on Saturday, including having a long shift on one of the penalty kills in the second period. It’s up in the air when his next start will be, but with the Bruins entering a heavy stretch of their schedule- playing 30 games in 58 days- it’s likely Pandolfo will only get more playing time.
“I have done it my whole career,” said Pandolfo, “It was good to get a chance out there. This team has obviously done very well and I just want to fit in. I have been at meetings and practices. I just kind of watch what the other guys were doing.”
“The more you play the better you are going to feel,” continued Pandolfo. “You just have to stay with it. That’s the biggest thing; you always have to stay ready. You never know when you are going to be called upon, that’s important.“