BUFFALO — Scott Conway is not on the express, well-trodden lane to the NHL, but the ex-Providence College forward has grown accustomed to skating hockey’s road not taken.
Conway, 24, was born in Basingstoke, England, and learned the game there while his Canadian-born dad, Kevin, toiled 18 years at right wing for a variety of British clubs.
“Yeah, my dad set multiple scoring records over there — he was kind of an English god for hockey,” said an admiring Scott after scoring a goal of his own in his pro debut Friday afternoon for the Bruins.
The younger Conway, meanwhile, is hoping to find a fit one day in the kingdom that is the NHL. He was 13 when his dad decided to move back to North America, in large part for Scott to be exposed to higher level of competition, and possibly one day fulfill a dream that his dad was never able to attain.
“We basically moved to Florida, and ever since high school I’ve bounced around, billeting from place to place,” he said, ticking off the myriad stops, which included three years in Michigan, a year in Texas, and a year in Indiana.
“I eventually went to Penn State for a year, transferred out to Penticton [British Columbia junior hockey] and then finished up at Providence College.”
Those three years with the Friars, for whom Conway scored 75 career points, eventually led to Providence coach Nate Leaman touting Conway as a prospect to the Bruins.
This past spring, after the Friars were eliminated by Minnesota Duluth in the Frozen Four, Leaman’s recommendation helped persuade the Bruins to sign Conway to a deal with AHL Providence.
“We know Nate well and got word of the type of player Scott was,” said Baby B’s coach Jay Leach, who was behind the bench here for Conway’s pro debut.
“He kind of did everything for Nate, especially his last couple of years, and I think he’s a competitor — which we really like. I thought he asserted himself well here [Friday afternoon]. His skating ability will dictate where he goes more than anything, I think, but that is something we can work on.
“He’s got some vision, can make plays, he’s competitive, and it’s nice to have him as an option as we move forward.”
Conway’s goal, with 18:30 gone in the second period, pushed the Bruins’ rookies out to a 3-2 lead over the Penguins in the opening game of the annual four-team round-robin tournament. The other goal scorers in Boston’s 4-3 win were Jakub Lauko, Jack Studnicka, and Anders Bjork, who potted the winner with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation.
“Unbelievable, I’ll never forget that feeling,” said a smiling Conway. “Even if it is just a rookie camp, I’ll never forget that feeling.”
There are openings at forward on the Boston varsity, but realistically it’s the likes of Lauko, Studnicka, and Bjork, just to name three, who have a decided edge over a kid with a one-year AHL loose-change deal and a pocketful of hope.
A good year for Conway would be to find steady work with the WannaB’s, perhaps on the bottom six, improve his giddy-up and do enough to entice Providence GM John Ferguson Jr. to tack another year onto his deal. He has been on this track for 11 years now, so he knows patience and the value of persistence.
“I’ve had faith in myself, and the same for my family, obviously, moving over here,” he said. “I started off in Triple A hockey, made the step to the NAHL, got drafted, and after I proved myself there I got to the USHL and had a great year there, proving I could play. Then just a domino effect basically, do well wherever I go and hopefully I can continue to do that.”
. . .
The Black-and-Gold rookies will be back in action here Saturday night, facing the Sabres, then wrap up the tourney Monday morning against the Devils, a squad that includes No. 1 overall draft pick Jack Hughes.
The best kids will see some time with the Boston varsity camp that opens on Warrior ice in Brighton on Friday.