Bouwmeester didn't play organized hockey until he was six. By then locals were already gathering to watch him skate. Abiding by his father's maxim that "the better you skate backward the better you skate forward," Jay was always in perpetual motion. He skated many hours on the family's backyard rink, and during inclement weather he put on Rollerblades and cruised so endlessly in the Bouwmeester basement that his parents left the room unfinished.
The two junior sensations are dissimilar—Spezza is a talkative, high-scoring Easterner, Bouwmeester a reserved blueliner from the West—yet circumstances and birth dates have thrust them together. In the rare hours of daylight last week they often walked side by side through Skelleftea's town square. "We've become good friends," says Spezza. "It's good to have someone your own age to relate to."