By Brian Compton
As a son, it’s never easy to follow in a father’s footsteps — especially when the old man has experienced a tremendous amount of success in his profession.
But last week, Justin Bourne got a phone call that almost certainly brought tears to his father’s eyes. It was one of those moments that neither father nor son will ever forget.
New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow was on the other end of the line, letting Justin know that he would be receiving an invitation to the team’s training camp next month in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Justin Bourne is the son of Bob Bourne, who played on Long Island for 12 seasons and was a part of a dynasty that featured four straight Stanley Cup championships and 19 consecutive playoff series victories from 1980-84.
Arguably the most underrated player in the history of the franchise, the elder Bourne is famous for his end-to-end rush against the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Patrick Division Finals on April 20, 1983. On that night, Bourne skated the length of the ice with the puck, put it between the legs of defenseman Reijo Ruotsalainen’s feet and then fired a wrist shot past goalie Eddie Mio for one of the greatest tallies in postseason history.
Now, Justin Bourne has a chance to put on the same uniform his father once wore so proudly. This is a scenario that’s usually saved for Hollywood scripts.
Justin took a long and winding road to get to this point, as he played four years at the University of Alaska-Anchorage — posting 31 goals and 53 assists in 149 collegiate games — and recently graduated with a degree in psychology. He then played the end of last season with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces before receiving the invite to the Isles’ prospect camp. It’s all added up to a chance to one day play for the same team for which his father starred.
“Just the prospect camp was cool, just looking down at the logo,” the younger Bourne said. “This summer, I’ve just committed myself to making sure I give myself the best opportunity. I don’t want to cheat myself. My work ethic has to be huge. I’m in the gym every day I can be.”