AHL teammates are now NHL foes

BOSTON -- When the Boston Bruins host the New York Islanders tonight at TD Garden, it will be the first time the Bruins’ Chris Bourque and the Islanders’ Keith Aucoin will play against each other in the NHL. The two are close friends and were teammates in the AHL for the Hershey Bears, and won two Calder Cup titles together.

They stood in the hallway between locker rooms Friday morning and caught up on things.

Even though the 34-year-old Aucoin is eight years older than Bourque, the Massachusetts natives have had similar pro careers, always having to prove they weren’t too small to play in the NHL.

“He’s worked hard,” Aucoin said. “To get the chance playing with the Bruins where his dad played, and grew up watching, I’m sure it’s a great experience for him. He deserves it and I’m happy for him.”

The two dominated at the AHL level when both were in Hershey, especially on the power play. Now that both are trying to remain in the NHL with their respective teams, their friendship won’t vanish just because they’re playing against each other.

“We became friends fairly quickly and he’s definitely a player I looked up to when I was playing with him,” Bourque said. “He makes the game look so easy. He’s such a good passer and such a good playmaker, he usually doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

“Being out there against him will be fun," he added. "He’s a great guy and he deserves everything that he’s getting.”

Aucoin expressed similar sentiments.

“It’s going to be weird,” he said. “He can be a little rat out there and he’s not going to play like he’s my friend. I’m sure we’ll have fun with it, but he’ll play hard, I’ll play hard and hopefully we don’t play against each other too much.”