PORTLAND – In hockey, timing is everything.
It could mean the difference between a goal or no goal, a good clean check or a bad hit, a job or no job.
At the start of this season, it looked like Bryce Lampman, a defenseman who joined the Portland Pirates last week after spending three of the last four seasons playing in Europe, may have picked the wrong time to re-establish his professional hockey career on this side of the Atlantic.
“I just didn’t want to go back to Europe this year so I decided to come back to the states,” he said.
“With the lockout, it was probably the worst possible time to come back.”
At first, Lampman, 30, decided to stay home in Minnesota during the NHL lockout, which lasted 119 days and ended last weekend with the approval of a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement by team owners and players.
“I kind of stayed at home and waited to see what happened,” he said. “I really didn’t want to go overseas.”
In October, Lampman got a call from former NHL defenseman Drake Berehowsty, head coach of the Orlando Solar Bears, inviting him to come to Florida and play for the ECHL team.
Berehowsty was an assistant coach for the Peoria Rivermen when Lampman, now in his 11th pro season, played for the AHL team during the 2009-10 season.
“I was kind of skeptical about the whole situation,” Lampman said. “It was my first time in the ECHL. I talked to my agent and we thought it was best to go be on the ice, to see what happens.”
It turned out to be the right move.
Last Friday, after the NHL parent Phoenix Coyotes brought three of the Pirates’ top defensemen to their training camp, the AHL team signed Lampman to a 25-game professional tryout contract.
“In a way I am lucky,” Lampman said. “There’s so many guys I know who don’t have jobs, numerous players at home sitting, just waiting and hoping there’s a job somewhere, but I feel pretty fortunate to get a chance to go play and be in shape, and kind to be close to the top of my game as I can get.”
In 21 games with the Solar Bears, Lampman, who also previously played in the AHL for the old Hartford Wolfpack, the Norfolk Admirals, the old Iowa Stars and the Houston Aeros, scored three goals and had nine assists.
In his first three games with the Pirates, Lampman has not looked out of place.
“You don’t feel comfortable because obviously it’s a new system, new players, but I get in and try to keep it simple,” he said.
NOTES: Center Alexandre Bolduc and defenseman David Rundblad were named to the AHL’s Eastern Conference all-star squad. Both players are attending the Phoenix training camp. The AHL all-star game is scheduled for Jan. 28 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. … The Coyotes sent forwards Chris Brown, Andy Miele, Brendan Shinnimin and Jordan Szwarz, and defensemen Brandon Gormley and Chris Summers back to the Pirates. They are expected to return in time to participate in a pregame skate Friday morning in Providence. … After spending four days at the New York Islanders’ training camp, former Bowdoin College defenseman Jon Landry was sent back to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: