Training camp is always good for a pleasant surprise or two. You come out to see Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos but then you catch a glimpse of an unfamiliar jersey number flying around the ice, making things happen all over the place. A couple of glimpses later, you ask "who the heck is that?" and you kind of forget the other guys.
This year that jersey number is 36 and the guy wearing it is Cory Conacher, a 5'8" winger from Burlington, Ontario. And while you may not be that familiar with him, he's definitely caught the eye of the Lightning brass. He turned heads in the recent 2011 Florida Rookie Tournament, earning praise from general manager Steve Yzerman and head coach Guy Boucher has mentioned how well he's played during training camp.
So far, the experience has been a good one for Conacher. "What's impressed me the most has been how helpful everyone has been," he said. "Guys like Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier come right up and talk to me like I belong here as much as anyone else on the team. It's a really open and inviting atmosphere and I think it's a big part of the reason why they've been successful." When asked if he's using his time in training camp to learn or impress, Conacher says, "Both, hopefully. That sounds like it would be difficult to do but that's what we're all here for. If we work hard and do things the right way, everything should take care of itself."
Just because he hasn't shown up on every Lightning fan's radar yet doesn't mean he can't be on yours. Here's what you need to know about Cory Conacher...
- He was born December 14, 1989 in Burlington, Ontario.
- When he was eight years old, Conacher was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes, a chronic condition that requires him to monitor his glucose levels and take insulin daily.
- Played with the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League in 2006-07, where he tallied 62 points in 48 games, including eight games of three points or more.
- Named to the OPJHL West Rookie All-Star Team and earned Rookie of the Year and Most Promising Player honors from Burlington.
- He majored in finance at Canisius College.
- Named to the Atlantic Hockey All-Academic Team in each of his first two seasons.
- Named the 2009-10 Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year.
- Nominated for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, annually presented to the top National Collegiate Athletic Association men's ice hockey player.
- Named to the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award All-America First Team as a senior.
- He made his professional debut with Rochester of the American Hockey League on March 25, 2011.
- Signed a one-year contract with the Norfolk Admirals (Tampa Bay Lightning minor league affiliate) on July 5th, 2011