Thomp­son’s thoughts on fam­ily as wild­fires rage in Cal­i­for­nia

For­mer Duck makes first re­turn to his off-sea­son home, Bruce Gar­rioch writes.

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - bgar­rioch@post­media.com twit­ter.com/sun­gar­rioch

The fires in the Los An­ge­les area hit a lit­tle too close to home for Nate Thomp­son.

As the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors winger re­turned to his off-sea­son home for the first time since he signed as an un­re­stricted free agent July 1, Thomp­son learned Wed­nes­day his fi­ancee Syd­ney’s grand­mother was evac­u­ated from her home and her par­ents were stand­ing by to see if they too had to leave.

“Hope­fully it’s OK. Thoughts and prayers out to them,” Thomp­son said Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. “It kind of hap­pened quick. (Tues­day) it was all right in Ventura and Thou­sand Oaks, then all of a sud­den it took a turn over to where they’re at. Hope­fully it can be con­tained and ev­ery­thing will be OK.”

A RE­TURN FOR THOMP­SON

Signed as a free agent from the Anaheim Ducks, Thomp­son still returns here in the sum­mer and has ties to the area. He was look­ing for­ward to see­ing fa­mil­iar faces at the Honda Cen­ter Wed­nes­day night.

“I loved play­ing here,” Thomp­son said. “We had some re­ally good teams. It was a great place to live and a great group of guys. I can’t say enough great things about the or­ga­ni­za­tion and how they treated me.

“But now I’m on the other side, and now I want to beat them.”

Thomp­son has made his im­pact felt with the Sen­a­tors.

“He’s some­thing we didn’t have,” head coach said Guy Boucher. “He has brought ex­actly what we wanted and what we needed. I know him — he won’t play against his bud­dies, he’ll play hard be­cause that’s the kind of guy he is. He loves to com­pete ev­ery night.

“There’s not a game — even the last game (in Win­nipeg) when we didn’t have a lot of guys com­pet­ing, he went out and banged some guys to try to cre­ate some­thing. We def­i­nitely need that.”

PROSPECTS ON THE RADAR

There’s a chance the Sen­a­tors may be able to get a look at cou­ple of their top prospects at the world ju­nior cham­pi­onships later this month in Buf­falo, N.Y.

Lon­don Knights winger Alex For­men­ton, 18, a sec­ond-round pick in 2017, and cen­tre Drake Bather­son of the Cape Bre­ton Scream­ing Ea­gles were among the in­vi­tees to Canada’s world ju­nior camp, which starts next Mon­day in St. Catharines.

For­men­ton had an im­pres­sive camp with the Sen­a­tors, made the open­ing night ros­ter and suited up for one game be­fore be­ing sent back to ju­nior, while Bather­son was a fourth-round pick last June, but they’re in for a tough bat­tle with 18 for­wards com­pet­ing for roughly 14 spots in the tour­na­ment.

“That shows a lot about the work of our scouts be­cause both of those guys weren’t first-round picks, which gives a lot of credit to their work,” Boucher said. “That changes or­ga­ni­za­tions, it re­ally does.

“Guys that aren’t first-rounders that come up and are rec­og­nized as be­ing top players in their coun­tries and prob­a­bly will ac­cel­er­ate our process of grow­ing (down the road), that makes a gi­gan­tic dif­fer­ence. You don’t ex­pect those sec­ond-, third- and fourth-rounders to make a team that quickly. Those guys are go­ing to be on the bub­ble soon enough, and that’s a trib­ute to the work of our scouts.”

Bather­son, who had a cracked fin­ger, just spent a week skat­ing with the club’s AHL af­fil­i­ate in Belleville while re­cov­er­ing from the in­jury and is ex­pected to suit up this week­end with Cape Bre­ton be­fore head­ing to camp.

Sen­a­tors prospect Lo­gan Brown, who was re­turned to the OHL’s Wind­sor Spit­fires at the end of the Oc­to­ber, also has a good chance to play for Team U.S.A.

The club’s top se­lec­tion in the 2016 draft was one of 28 players in­vited to take part in Team U.S.A.’s train­ing camp. Brown, who suited up for four games with Ot­tawa af­ter mak­ing the team in Septem­ber, has 11 goals and 21 points in 13 games since be­ing sent back to ju­nior. The Amer­i­can camp starts Dec. 15 in Columbus, Ohio.

For­ward Markus Nurmi, a sixth-round pick in 2016 who has four goals and eight points in 29 games with TPS Turku, will also com­pete for a spot on Fin­land’s ros­ter.

“I’ve lived the (world ju­niors) and I’ve en­joyed all the ben­e­fits that come from that en­vi­ron­ment,” Boucher said. “It’s a pres­sure en­vi­ron­ment and it’s very dif­fer­ent than play­ing for your own team. There’s such a big pur­pose to it and a pride as­so­ci­ated with it.”

BRASSARD’S BAT­TLING

Cen­tre Der­ick Brassard, who hadn’t scored in 17 games go­ing into Wed­nes­day’s visit to Anaheim, was try­ing to not let the slump get to him. “Ev­ery game I have some Grade A (op­por­tu­ni­ties), and when the chances aren’t there that’s when you worry,” Brassard said be­fore fac­ing the Ducks. “Ev­ery game I have chances to score and ev­ery chance you miss you feel like the net is get­ting a lit­tle smaller.”

Nate Thomp­son

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