Editor's note: Since the opening of Augusta Lynx training camp, rookie goalie J.R. Prestifilippo compiled a diary on his experiences in his first pro camp. The 23-year-old was drafted by the New York Islanders in 1996 but did not sign, instead embarking on a successful career at Harvard University. With veteran Judd Lambert opening the season with Providence of the American Hockey League, Prestifilippo and fellow rookie Reg Bourcier are sharing the goaltending duties in Augusta. Here is his final diary as the New Jersey native shares his final thoughts with staff writer Rob Mueller.
With the season finally underway, I've taken some time to reflect on my experiences the past few weeks, and I couldn't ask to be in a better position than I am right now as I begin my pro career with the Augusta Lynx.
In some ways, I feel like I just got here and in other ways I feel I've been here a couple of months. I feel I've made the transition smoothly and look forward to being a part of what looks to be a great, great hockey team.
You couldn't have asked for a better way to start the season than with Friday's win over Greenville. Reg Bourcier played an incredible game in goal and hopefully I can do the same Saturday night in my debut. It's going to be tough to top what Reg did, though.
Good starts can go a long way for seasons and for teams. Hopefully, this can be the beginning of something great. I know we've got great veteran leadership on this team, which I think will be a huge reason for our success this year. These guys are the heart and soul of this team. They give you kind of a "this is the way the bus is going, get on if you want to come along." You can't ask for better leadership than what we have here.
Overall, pro hockey has been what I expected. From an early age, I strived to play pro hockey, and the NHL is still my goal. From Day One, since I was about 7, when I first strapped on the pads and got in net. I want to do well and prove to myself and other people that I can be a great goalie in this league and just take it one day at a time.
From my days playing youth hockey to high school to my days at Harvard to now, my parents have been there for me every step of the way, and I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for their support. This is just one of a zillion places I've been to in hockey and they've been there every step of the way. They've been hugely supportive and have done everything for me. My first pro start wouldn't mean nearly as much to me if my folks, Joseph Robert Sr. and Christine, weren't here. It's going to be nice when the weekend's over and we can just sit down and say "This is step one, we're here in a new place, and there will be more new places after this."
That's life for a hockey player. And right now, life is great.