Party in the Hamptons: Bobby Hampton’s Return to the Ice
The Dropkick Murphys’ song “The Boys Are Back” presents the simple lyrics of “It’s been a long time coming,” leading up to the main chorus.
And for Bobby Hampton, it’s been a long time coming to get back onto the ice.
The junior forward from Middletown, New Jersey, transferred from Northeastern at the conclusion of his sophomore season and was forced to sit out the 2019-20 season as per the NCAA transfer rules. Hampton was able to practice with the team, but he was just itching to get back into game mode.
“It was hard,” Hampton said. “I had to accept that as a person and try to do everything in my power I can to help the other guys on the ice.”
In the most recent series against Michigan, Hampton made his debut on Pegula ice, and although it was in front of a nearly empty arena, he soaked it all in and enjoyed the moment.
“It was really special,” the junior said.
Then once the puck dropped, it was time to get locked in. Hampton had not played in an actual game since the 2018-19 season, so it was almost two full years since his last regular season game.
Against the Wolverines, the sharpshooting forward was able to block a few shots and win some faceoffs, but there were no real scoring chances in that 3-1 Game 1 loss.
Then, just 24 hours later, Hampton’s fortunes changed as he scored not one but two goals in a 9-5 win over the Wolverines.
The performance was highlighted by a number of Nittany Lions funneling pucks to the net. Hampton gave credit to his fellow teammates for giving him a chance to succeed and win as a team.
“We have a really tight group of guys in here,” Hampton said. “They wanted to see me succeed, so it felt really good to get out there and help our team get a win.”
The 1-5 start is, however, the worst start under Guy Gadowsky since he came to Penn State prior to the 2011 season. But Hampton knew that if the Nittany Lions played the way they were capable of playing, then the Game 2 result against Michigan will be a theme that stays.
“It was just so important for us to stick together,” Hampton said. “We saw what we can do in that second game against Michigan, and I think we’re not going to look back from here.”
One attribute of Hampton’s game that sticks out, even while he was at Northeastern, is his ability to create chances and be in the right spot at the right time.
The Penn State hockey mentality, according to Hampton, consists of “getting the pucks to their defensemen, getting traffic to the net, throwing pucks to the net, and winning those battles once we do get to the net.”
And in just six games, he has been able to do that at a high level. The system Penn State runs suits his game the best.
“We realized that it’s fun to play that style of hockey, and everybody started buying in,” Hampton said.
Hampton’s team-first mentality does not go unnoticed, and he wholeheartedly believes that this team is a special group and will use that first win as a motivator down the road.
“We have a great group of guys in this locker room that will battle for each other every single night,” Hampton said.
Penn State will welcome the Arizona State Sun Devils to Pegula Ice Arena on Friday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m.
Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.