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He’s playing hooky to play hockey for the Bruins

Commisso plays hooky to play hockey

Domenic Commisso, a center, picked up an assist in Sunday night’s rookie game.Boston Bruins

BUFFALO — It’s late September and Domenic Commisso really should be back at school. The youngest of all the Bruins participating in the three-team rookie tournament that wrapped up here Monday night, the 18-year-old center is still a high school senior in Oshawa, Ontario, and isn’t slated to finish his classes at Maxwell Heights Secondary School until January.

But right now, and until further notice, Commisso is officially playing hooky in order to play hockey with the Bruins. It wouldn’t be much different than coach Claude Julien & Co. spotting a kid at, say, Catholic Memorial or Arlington High, and saying, “Hey, want to cut classes a few days and take a shot at the big time?’’


Commisso, who grew up in Oakville, just south of Toronto, didn’t have to think long and hard about the offer.

“Exciting for me, a good opportunity,’’ he said. “I’m just here to soak it all in, put my best foot forward, and see what happens.’’

Commisso picked up an assist Sunday night in Boston’s 4-3 win over the Devils. One game, one point. Not a bad start, especially for a kid who the next morning would have been expected to have his hand up in his “Challenge and Change in Society’’ class at Maxwell Heights.

“I liked him,’’ said Kevin Dean, bench boss for the rookies, a good number of whom will play for him this year at AHL Providence. “For a young kid, he was making some plays, and he was strong on the puck. He turned one over there on one goal, but he was down low and he was strong, in good defensive position, and seemed to have some wherewithal about what we want to do and what he is supposed to do.’’

Unclaimed in the June draft, Commisso, because is still so young, automatically is slated to have his name in the 2017 draft, after likely completing his second full season of junior hockey with the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League.


Until he begins OHL play with the Generals this season, he remains an unrestricted free agent. If the Bruins leave here tomorrow morning feeling suitably impressed with how he performed, they could offer Commisso a contract. If he signed, he then would be obligated to return to his junior team, provided the Bruins didn’t want to keep him in their training camp for further evaluation, or, far less likely, keep him on their varsity roster.

“He’s a kid we watched throughout last season, and we liked him,’’ said John Ferguson Jr., Boston’s executive director of player personnel. “So this has been a good opportunity to take a look . . . and, hey, you never know, right?’’

Reminded that it meant Commisso had to cut his high school classes to be here, Ferguson added: “We forget that part of it sometimes. Shows you how young these kids are, doesn’t it?’’

Commisso, who said he is diligent about the books, said his only other class this semester is a course on Canadian law. He’s committed to completing the book work, receiving his diploma, and then devoting his full mental and physical efforts toward fulfilling his hockey dream.

Last season, his first full tour with the Generals, the 5-foot-11-inch, 180-pound Commisso delivered 18 goals and 42 points in 66 games. The previous season, he was one of the club’s young guns in waiting as the Generals, with current Boston invitee Matt Mistele, captured the Memorial Cup, the top prize in Canadian junior hockey.


Bobby Orr, perhaps the greatest Bruin of them all, also played his junior hockey with the Generals. With junior eligibility still remaining, he reported to Boston’s camp 50 years ago, also at the age of 18, and went on to become the NHL’s 1966-67 Rookie of the Year.

“Back in the day, for sure, we see a lot of Bobby Orr,’’ said Commisso, noting memories of Orr are still vivid in Oshawa. “There are posters of him all over the rink, and he comes back all the time to talk to the guys. It’s good to have him around, for sure. You can’t forget him. He’s one of the greatest players of all time.’’

If he doesn’t win a contract from the Bruins, Commisso can take comfort in knowing he can play up to three more years in Oshawa and keep working on his game. Another year could position him well for the 2017 draft. If left unclaimed again, he still would have a two-year cushion to keep growing his game, hope to catch on with what then will be a 31-team NHL (Las Vegas opens for business next October).

“Knowing it’s my first NHL camp, and that I’m only 18,’’ he said, “I can use it all as experience.”

It’s late September, and until further notice, the books can wait.


“They understand, right?’’ said Commisso, asked to ponder what teachers back at Maxwell Heights must be thinking. “When I get back, they have all the stuff for me to catch up.’’

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The Bruins captured the Prospects Challenge title with a 4-3 win over the Sabres Monday night at Harbor Center.

First-period strikes by Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Sean Kuraly paced the Baby B’s to a 3-0 lead in the first, and Jesse Gabrielle countered a goal by Buffalo’s Justin Bailey in the second to leave the Bruins up by three goals at the end of 40:00.

The Bruins, who polished off the Devils rookies, 4-3, Sunday night, finished the tournament with a 2-0 record. The Devils were 1-1 and the Sabres were 0-2.

Buffalo made it interesting late in the third period, scoring twice in a span of 49 seconds to close to within 4-3. Alexander Nylander connected at 17:26, followed by Brendan Guhle at 18:15. The Sabres went with an empty net the rest of the way, and the Bruins held on, back in net by Czech goalie Dan Vladar.

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The Bruins fly out Tuesday morning and the front office is expected to finalize the main camp roster on Wednesday, a day ahead of the varsity reporting to Warrior Ice Arena for physicals and testing. The first practice session will be Friday in Brighton, followed by workouts there Saturday and Sunday before the start of the exhibition season Monday night vs. Columbus at the Garden.


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Commisso, as expected, did not suit up Monday for the tourney wrapup against the Sabres rookies. He sat out with fellow invitee Mistele. Former Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and former UMass-Lowell winger A.J. White also were kept out of uniform. Both played in Sunday night’s win over the Devils.

“Yeah, for sure, it’s what you dream about, right?’’ said Grzelcyk, asked if felt a sense of relief to have logged his first game as a pro. “Although it’s not a real game, we are all competing for spots and getting ready for main camp. So it’s nice to have that monkey off your back.’’

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.