Philip Lagunov’s summer vacation? A trip to Bruins development camp

UMass rising sophomore invited to Boston Bruins’ 2018 development camp


(Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

Summer camps are a great way for kids to meet new people, try new things and experience life in fresh surroundings. Philip Lagunov did all of that, but instead of trekking to some dusty old log cabin in the middle of mosquito-infested woodlands, the Massachusetts hockey rising sophomore accepted an invitation to play some summer hockey.

And not just any summer hockey.

Lagunov was one of 11 invitees to the Boston Bruins’ annual development camp at the Warrior Ice Arena, held from June 26-29.

“Obviously thrilled,” Lagunov said upon hearing he would be attending.  “Very excited, especially (the) Boston Bruins, an Original Six team. (I) almost (felt) like a local now playing for UMass, so very exciting.”

The four-day event offers recent draft picks and invites the chance to run through drills and partake in some game action while having all eyes on them. With no NHL players to sway the attention away from upper management, in this case, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and others have a favorable environment to assess the future of their parent club.

On the first day of camp, Lagunov took the ice alongside guys like Axel Andersson and Jack Studnicka, high-profile Bruins draft picks, but instead of trying to outdo his companions, the UMass product instead focused on improving his own game.

“I think I knew even a week before camp I didn’t want to come in being nervous or shaky,” said Lagunov. “I think my goal was to step on the ice, first skate, take a few deep breaths and take it all in so off the bat I’m ready to go.

“Obviously some of these kids are very talented and (I’m) seeing what they do best and kind of taking stuff from them and trying to implement it into my game.”

Lagunov admitted it took some time to get back into the swing of things since ice time isn’t as available in the summer months, but by the time Friday rolled around, No. 17 felt he was back up to speed.

“The first day was tough, we had the cardio, on-ice test so yeah no I definitely feel much better,” Lagunov said. “As the camp progressed I was a little more comfortable around the area with the guys. Running around in game situations is kind of difficult if you haven’t played in a while.”

Off the ice, the Bruins had its prospects bond during trips to the local YMCA in Brighton and even a Boston Red Sox game, something the Minuteman can now check off his bucket list.

“That was actually my first baseball game, believe or not,” said Lagunov. “Living in Toronto you feel like I would’ve gone to a Blue Jays game. But that was my first game so it was cool, especially at Fenway Park, such a historic stadium.”

One player the Hamilton, Ontario native clicked with in particular was 2018 seventh-rounder Pavel Shen.

With ties to Shen’s home country of Russia, Lagunov took Shen under his wing for the duration of the camp and even served as his translator for an interview:

“He’s a great kid,” Lagunov said. “I knew right away going into camp I heard he would get drafted and he’s a Russian kid and I wasn’t sure how much English he knew but quickly found out that it wasn’t much. I know how it is. Moving from a different country not knowing the language is very difficult so I tried to help him out as much as I can.”

With the Minutemen in 2017-18, Lagunov had a quiet freshman season registering just 12 points in 37 games played. UMass is planning to start its summer workouts July 9 and Lagunov hopes this experience can propel him right into his second act with the Minutemen.

“I think bringing up my leadership role on the team, obviously being a sophomore, being more comfortable around the school and the guys,” said Lagunov of his goals for the upcoming season. “Obviously it was a transition to move to Toronto, but now I feel like UMass is my second home so I think that’s a big change for me.”

Eight freshmen are expected to suit up for the Minutemen and Lagunov is excited to see what the young guns can add to the squad, some potentially right away.

“The freshmen class coming in, (they’re) great kids, great hockey players (plus) a great leadership group with Niko Hildenbrand, Cale Makar and Mario Ferraro so (it’s) very exciting,” Lagunov said.

Now with an NHL development on his resume, Lagunov can return to school in the fall with multiple stories about how he spent his summer away from home.

Just like any kid back from summer camp would.

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.