Colby Cave finally gets the call
At Providence Bruins practice Thursday, Colby Cave was going through his normal routine as if it was just any other day.
Little did he know that this day wasn’t going to be like another.
“We were getting ready for practice and the coach gave me a tap and said ‘don’t skate too long cause you got to play tonight,'” Cave said when he first received the news that he had been called up. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t [nervous]. I think not having nerves means that you don’t care.”
After 179 career games spanning three seasons with the P-Bruins, Cave, who is sporting 3-11-14 totals in 27 games this season, was called-up for the first time in his career during the Bruins’ 2-1 shootout home win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Injuries to David Krejci and Adam McQuaid along with a flu outbreak going around the locker room – a bug that affected Brad Marchand and knocked Ryan Spooner and Riley Nash out of the lineup – resulted in Cave’s first career call-up.
“I knew there were a few guys sick and stuff, I think there were a few guys who were game-time decisions,” Cave said. “You never like to see guys go down, but I’m obviously honored for the opportunity. It was a great win by the team.”
Cave logged 11:15 of ice time in 18 shifts, centering a line with that included Anders Bjork and Frank Vatrano. Towards the start of the game, For one period, Cave had the honor of reuniting with former junior hockey teammate Jake DeBrusk.
“I mean even coming into the dressing room and stuff, just seeing a familiar face – this is my third year with the organization, so I’ve seen a lot of faces,” Cave said. “The staff and the trainers, and everybody around the rink. It’s nice coming to familiar faces and it takes the nerves off a little bit.”
“I had no idea [we’d be in the NHL together],” Cave added about catching up with DeBrusk. “Fortunately, right after my overage season, I ended up signing a contract with Boston. I was watching that draft closely and I saw Jake’s [DeBrusk] name get taken and I was super excited and through the roof for him. Obviously, it’s pretty cool looking back on the times we had in junior and fast-forwarding to now and playing in the NHL together is a dream come true.”
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Cave had himself a pretty solid debut, albeit with some jitters that come with playing in NHL Game No. 1. He went three-for-five on faceoffs and made a couple very nice passes through the seam to Bjork in the first and Krug in the second to set up quality shots on goal. There was also a good back-check in the third and turn it into transition.
One downside was a penalty that he took seven minutes into the first, an interference call that gave the Jets the first power-play of the game. It nearly proved costly as a shot rang off the post during the ensuing man advantage.
“I thought his game was fine,” said Bruce Cassidy, who coached Cave during his first full season in Providence in 2015-16, “I know him from Providence; he is a good 200-foot player. We were one of the – I guess – why hasn’t been up before, will his pace be good enough, strong enough on the puck? I thought he did well for himself in those areas. He did what we asked him to do, so I was happy for him. For me, I thought he did his job and helped us get the two points.”
“I thought he played really well,” said Noel Acciari, Cave’s teammate in Providence. “Nerve-racking getting into his first game, but I thought he handled himself really well and he played a good game. He was hard on the draws, hard on the puck and I think he did really well.”
It’s been quite a grind for Colby Cave. From going undrafted to paying his dues over parts of three-plus seasons in the AHL, to now finally stepping on the ice in his first NHL game, Cave has been nearly through it all. Most will say Cave passed his first test at the big-time level, something he hopes to continue to do and lead to a full-time spot.
“Obviously getting the win put the cherry on top of things,” he said. “It’s a dream come true, getting the first out of the way. And hopefully, I can stick around here.”