QUONSET POINT, RI — The two groups just seemed to mesh.
Perhaps it's because, as one of the Air National Guardsmen whispered to me, "We're warriors, they're warriors."
But as Bruins prospects spoke with sometimes starstruck personnel at Quonset Air National Guard Base, the P-Bruins players themselves were clearly in awe of the men and women tasked to protect and serve the United States.
"It’s very exciting," said Torey Krug, while wearing an Air Force Helmet equipped with night vision. "To see what these guys do preparation wise on a daily basis is unbelievable.
"I guess we can kind of take it and relate it to what we do on the ice," explained the rookie defenseman. "They prepare for what they do, and we prepare for what we do.
"It’s a fun experience. I know the guys are enjoying playing with all the gear."
Hockey players are no strangers to their own tools, but the equipment set on display by the 143rd Airlift Wing, including a C-130J transport, put everyone in Black & Gold back on their heels.
"All of us, we see it all on television, we see it in movies all the time," explained David Warsofsky, "but to come here and kind of get a real life situation of what’s it like, and get a real life preview, it’s pretty neat to see what they do.
"You kind of have that respect for them, to see what they do.
"It’s real humbling," added the defenseman, who modeled some chemical weapons protective gear. "It’s a lot different, but it’s a great experience."
Boston Bruins Assistant Coach Doug Houda has seen plenty during his professional hockey career, but even he was taken aback by the men and women at Quonset.
"Well, I think it’s obviously great for us to come and see what actually really goes on behind the scenes," he said. "It’s amazing.
"The National Guard, they’ve just been great to us so far."
True to form, Coach Houda easily explained why both military and hockey personnel seemed so at ease as they got to know each other at the airfield.
"They’re obviously a family," said Houda. "They stay here.
"The Boston Bruins are a group that’s been there quite a while with us, and you do start to become a family, and that’s exactly what he referred to here that they’re a big family, and they look after one another, and they work together."
They work together in order to look after all of us, as well.
"This is what it’s all about," said Houda in reference to a P-Bruins base visit so close to Veterans Day. "They’re here to keep us safe.
"So we owe them a lot, and it’s great to come here and really meet them."
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