|Hammond ready for NHL camp (8-23-13)|
|Written by By KEVIN GORDON, Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Friday, 23 August 2013 23:19|
Andrew Hammond is hoping to play in the National Hockey League.
The former standout goalie for the Bowling Green Falcons is ready to take the next step towards his ultimate goal.
He’ll start by attending training camp with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Hammond and the team’s rookies begin camp Sept. 4, followed by the regular camp Sept. 11 and the first exhibition game Sept. 15.
“All in all, I feel good about where my game is at,” Hammond said. “I’m really excited. It seems like yesterday when I got the phone call (from the Senators) and everything started happening and getting the deal done. It’s been a long summer and I’m excited to get everything rolling now.”
Hammond signed a two-year contract with the Senators March 20.
The 25-year-old finished his career as one of the best goalies in school history. His 2.84 goals-against average was the second-best in BG history and his .906 save percentage was the third-best by a Falcon.
Hammond is one of four goalies under contract with the Senators.
He’s expected to begin the season with the Binghamton (N.Y.) Senators of the American Hockey League, Ottawa’s top minor league affiliate.
“It’s pretty rare to see a goaltender jump right from college to the NHL, but I’m going to go to camp and try to give my best effort,” Hammond said. “Hopefully, that’s enough to make them think I might be an option either this season or down the road. If I end up in Binghamton, I need to go down there and make the most of every game I get to play.”
Craig Anderson, Ottawa’s No. 1 goalie, led the NHL with a 1.69 goals-against average and was fourth with a .941 save percentage last season.
The backup is Robin Lehner, who was second in save percentage (.936) to go along with a 2.20 goals-against.
Also under contract is Nathan Lawson, who had a 2.19 goals-against and a .938 save percentage for Binghamton last season.
“Just from talking to people in the organization, the plan is for me to start in Binghamton and earn some playing time and if things go well, who knows what will happen,” said Hammond said. “It’s great situation because I’ll get to play some games at a pretty high level this year.”
Hammond visited the Senators after signing with the organization and then went to Binghamton where he was hoping to practice and see some game action.
He had a handful of practices at Binghamton before reinjuring the same knee he suffered a sprained MCL late last season at Bowlng Green.
As a result, Hammond returned to BG to finish his classes and then went back to Ottawa. He practiced with the team during the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“That was a pretty cool experience,’ Hammond said. “Since I was a kid, that was the first time I had seen an NHL playoff game (in person). You hear from a lot of people how the intensity is totally different in the playoffs . It really was night and day different from during the regular season when I went to watch a game to the playoffs.
“You walk around the tunnels and see the guys who are playing through injuries, and realize what guys will do to play at that level and what it means to them. As someone who wants to be a part of that, you realize what it takes and how hard you have to work to get there.”
Hammond then attended the Senators’ prospects camp during the summer.
In addition to developing their skills, the players learned about proper nutrition and physical fitness during the camp.
“You learned how to be a pro,” Hammond said. “It was like a one-week workshop of what to expect and what you need to do to be a full-time player in the NHL. The camp went really well.”
Hammond will graduate from Bowling Green in December with a degree in sport management. He had a 3.0 grade-point average.
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