With the Bruins announcing their Development Camp roster, we’re taking a look at some of the prospects who will be attending this year's practices. We’re staying below the blue line today and analyzing Rob O’Gara, a defenseman out of Yale.
When he stepped onto Yale’s campus in New Haven, Conn., Rob O’Gara didn’t quite look the part of a hockey player. At 6-foot-4 with his skates off, he certainly wasn’t lacking in height, but at a slender 185 pounds, O’Gara wasn’t as big as he or the Bruins would like him to be.
A couple of years can make quite a difference though, and for O’Gara, it’s meant 20 pounds added to his listed playing weight, and a national championship with the Bulldogs.
O’Gara was born in New York, and played most of his youth hockey there before transferring to Milton Academy in 2010. The local visibility may have helped him become a name on the radar for the Bruins' brass, as O’Gara was selected by Boston in the fifth round soon after he won a New England Prep League title.
Around that time was also when O’Gara began to get serious college looks, and eventually landed at Yale in the fall of 2012. He quickly was put on the Bulldogs top defensive pairing along Gus Young, a Colorado Avalanche prospect.
Even playing at his former weight, O’Gara was instantly a difference-maker in his own end, using his long reach to keep his opponents off balance, and then sweeping in with his size (which again, has only increased) to punish puck carriers.
That Yale team wasn’t picked by many to make much noise in the college hockey scene, but after earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, it went on a Cinderella run to a national championship. O’Gara had 37 collegiate games under his belt, and the country’s top honor to boot.
Currently, it’s O’Gara’s play in his own that is his biggest strength. He didn’t record a goal in his first season at Yale, putting up seven assists, while he equaled that number and netted four goals during his sophomore campaign. Comparatively, Yale had a much worse season, bowing out a round earlier in the conference tournament, and failing to make it to the national dance to defend their championship.
Playing in the ECAC, O’Gara consistently is matched up with some pretty stiff competition. The last two national champions came out of the conference, as Union took home the trophy this year. With O’Gara going up against the opposition’s top line night in and night out, in most cases other NHL prospects, he’s not playing sheltered minutes or getting easy assignments.
O’Gara though is certainly making strides, and putting on 20 pounds was a big part of the to-do list as far as the Bruins were concerned. With many defensive prospects that are considered more offensively gifted, O’Gara represents the true shutdown, physical blue liner, which will keep him in the conversation moving forward.
With a logjam of talented defensemen vying for the Bruins seven roster spots, there also won’t be a rush to sign O’Gara from the collegiate ranks, meaning he’ll get plenty of time to continue to develop under Yale head coach and former NHL assistant Keith Allain.