Beyond The Pond: The Arrival of Bruins Prospect Tanner Pond
Michigan native and Bruins prospect returns to Detroit for NHL preseason
It certainly wasn’t a home crowd for the Boston Bruins against the Red Wings in a preseason matchup at Little Caesars Arena, but for one player it had a homecoming feel to it.
In the mix of the Red Wings faithful in attendance, there was an assortment of mutual jerseys with the name ‘Pond’ stitched on the back.
This, of course, the family and friends of Bruins forward Tanner Pond, a Michigan native who was returning to Detroit to play a team he grew up admiring.
“It was a dream come true playing in Detroit playing an NHL game, even though it was just a preseason game. It was amazing to have my parents come and I had a bunch of family and friends come,” says Pond.
The jerseys his family and friends wore individually told a story of his youth and each one was put on with a sense of pride and passion for always wanting to do better.
It was a certain promise Tanner made to himself when he first stepped onto the ice in the backyard of his home in Walled Lake, Michigan.
“The moment I was young, as soon as I put skates on at the pond, I fell in love with the game and took off with it. I never wanted to stop, all I could think was hockey 24/7,” says Tanner.
The passion for the game never became stagnant for Tanner.
His mother, Kendra Pond, can remember the tireless nights Tanner spent out on the pond when he was younger.
“He would go out there from the second he got home until I pulled him off the ice to go to bed at night, you couldn’t get him off the ice,” she says.
Early indicators showed this was the sport for him.
“When he was two and a half, we bought him and Taylor (sister) roller blades and so we took him out to the roller rink, I said ‘I’m going to put Tanner’s skates on first because he is not going to be able to move.’ I turned around and he was gone, already on the rink going,” Kendra laughed.
His drive was set at a young age and Tanner has already been through four-years in the USHL and NCAA and one with ECHL.
Though his jerseys were always changing, Tanner’s game remained the same. A physical one.
If you ever went to a game, it wouldn’t take long to notice where Tanner was on the ice or in some cases the penalty box.
His grit became part of who he was as a player and in his last season with the Bruins affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators, an offensive outburst.
Scoring a career-high 14 goals was enough to draw the attention of the Bruins GM and coach Bruce Cassidy to give him the nod to play in the preseason.
Pond would play in his first NHL game against the Washington Capitals and the glance at the Bruins jersey in his locker had a more euphoric feeling than past jerseys.
“When I got in I took a long glance at it. Putting that sweater on for the first game, I was ecstatic,” he says.
In a monumental way to mark his arrival, Tanner Pond traded fists with Connor Hobbs of the Capitals, putting him in his comfort zone of never backing down.
Coming back to Detroit and playing amongst players he grew up watching was a moment Tanner won’t ever forget.
Longtime defenseman for the Red Wings Niklas Kronwall gave him a welcome to the league with a signature ‘Kronwalled’ moment.
“I think Kronwall laid me out one time, it’s kind of cool I can say I got ‘Kronwalled’,” says Tanner.
His loyalty to the game has Tanner wanting to establish himself as an everyday player who can play a full 82 game season in the NHL.
“I still got a ways to go to make my debut in a regular season game. I’m hoping to showcase myself this year and hopefully get the call-up.”
But behind him in this drive to return back to the ice is a fan base that has supported Tanner every step of the way, and a proud family watching closely.
“To see the rewards from all his hard work and see the sacrifices he put into it. It’s surreal, it really hasn’t set in,” says mom.
As preseason concludes, Pond has signed a two-way contract with the AHL team the Providence Bruins and will begin the season there.
The taste of years of sacrifice and hard-work were there but it’s only ignited him to find permanence in the NHL.