Bolland content to star and share billing

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

No one deserved to have a big night more than David Bolland.

Make that an enormous night.

He had four goals and two assists in the London Knights' 14-1 dismembering of the Kingston Frontenacs at the John Labatt Centre last night.

Bolland is one of the prize prospects who always plays his guts out. The Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted him early in the second round last June, have to be salivating at what this guy might do.

He's also one of those guys who always seems to take a back seat to someone else.

Take last night. Bolland's six points would normally have been automatic first star billing. But it only earned him a second star because Corey Perry had five goals and an assist. Bolland's linemate Danny Fritsche scored one goal and added five assists.

Bolland didn't care much about who was picked where or sharing his big night. He was beaming after the game and wanted to talk as much about Josh Beaulieu as he did about the goals and assists.

"We were trying hard to get Josh a goal," Bolland said. "He was the one guy on the line who didn't have a goal."

There were plenty going around. The Frontenacs were abysmal. It was a day goalies Brady Morrison and Dayne Davis would like to wipe from their memories. There's no truth to the rumour coach Jim Hulton made them flip a coin, with the winner getting to sit on the bench.

Bolland remembers having a night like this at some level of minor hockey. But this was the 18-year-old's biggest night in the OHL. He moved into ninth place in goals and overall scoring in the OHL.

"I never had a hat trick before," he said. "When I got the fourth one . . . that was great. But it's no big deal having someone else have a big night. I just wanted to play well."

Play well? Like everything else, that is understated. He was dominant. He helped Fritsche look at ease and live up to his billing for the first time since coming to London from the Sarnia Sting.

Bolland is an energy-type player. He almost made the gold medal-winning national junior team this year. Blair Mackasey, scouting director for the team, said Bolland is the type of player that could be a cornerstone for next year's team.

He, too, felt Bolland is often overlooked because guys like Perry and Danny Syvret play with him. Last year, Bolland had 37 goals and it could have been the quietest 37 goals in history. He has 26 this season.

At the National Hockey League draft, Bolland was selected 32nd, but again he played second fiddle to Rob Schremp, who went in the first round.

On any given night, Bolland is good for several big plays. Whether it's banging along the boards, winning the puck in the corner or simply playing all-out on every shift, Bolland makes his presence known.

He made a pinpoint one-time pass from along the boards on Fritsche's goal. The pass gave Fritsche an empty net to shoot at.

Bolland's also learning the little things that will make him a good professional player.

With the score 9-1 in the second period, it would have been easy for players to lose their focus and go goal-hunting. After all, this was a Kingston team that packed it in early.

Not Bolland.

Knights defenceman Dan Girardi was pinching in at the Kingston blue line. Bolland could have stayed in the slot hoping the puck would come to him. Instead, he did the right thing and headed back to the blue line to cover for Girardi. Eventually the puck found its way to Bolland, who scored his third goal.

Knights coach Dale Hunter's mantra is good defence usually translates into good offence.

"Even when we were up 10-1, he was telling us, 'If you don't play defence, you don't play,' " said Bolland.

With that attitude, you just know Bolland's got a few more big nights to come.


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