Bodnarchuk preps for his shot in the big leagues

If Andrew Bodnarchuk cracks the Boston Bruins’ lineup in the fall, he will be well ahead of schedule. But it’s well within his grasp.

The Hammonds Plains native and former Halifax Mooseheads captain is part of a handful of players in the mix for one of the few openings in the Bruins’ deep lineup — the seventh defensive spot.

Bodnarchuk, 22, has just two pro seasons under his belt and was recently re-signed on a one-year, two-way contract worth $577,500 at the NHL level.

“You look at their roster and you pretty well know who their top six (defencemen) are, just by looking at their contracts,” Bodnarchuk said. “There are three or four players, neck-and-neck, battling for that (seventh) spot … I’m looking forward to it.”

Since finishing his junior career with the Mooseheads in 2007-08, Bodnarchuk has become a steady American Hockey Leaguer with the Providence Bruins.

But late last season, injuries hit the Bruins’ blue-line and Bodnarchuk was called up to the NHL, appearing in five games, going minus-2 while averaging 7:19 of ice time per game.

“It was a dream come true,” Bodnarchuk said. “It sounds cliché, but there is no other way to put it. It’s what I’ve been striving for ever since I was a little kid playing hockey.”

If Bodnarchuk doesn’t crack the Bruins’ roster, he will spend a third season in Providence and likely get his share of NHL time as an injury call-up.

The five-foot-11, 190-pounder is living in downtown Halifax this summer, training hard with childhood friend and fellow Bruins hopeful Brad Marchand.

“Hopefully, this year is going to be another step toward being a full-time NHLer,” he said. “It tends to take a little bit longer for defencemen, especially for a shorter guy. I’m just looking to make more and more strides as the year goes on.”

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