Fresh off his first season in the National Hockey League, Prince George Cougars alumni forward Brett Connolly has a lot to feel good about. The soon-to-be 20-year-old from Prince George, B.C. played in 68 games and scored four goals and 15 points with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Connolly also represented Canada for a second time at the World Junior Hockey Championships, and scored five goals in six games, helping Canada to a bronze medal.
Brett Connolly recorded 152 career points in 144 games as a Prince George Cougar. He ranks fifth all-time in goals with 86, and sits 15th on the all-time franchise scoring leaders list. Heading into the 2011-2012 season, Connolly still had two more years of junior eligibility, but a strong summer in the gym and an even better training camp helped him stay in Tampa Bay permanently.
“My goal going into this season was to make the team out of training camp, and it was nice to play a full year,” said Brett Connolly who is back in Prince George for a few days visiting his family and friends. “I learned a lot. There were a lot of things that I took from a lot of different people. It was a very exciting season for me.”
As Connolly reflects on his first professional season, he acknowledges that it was a season full of learning both on and off the ice. “I was fortunate to have a very good group of leaders around. They made it a lot easier for me,” said Connolly. “It’s nice being around guys who have won Stanley Cups before. They taught me how to be professional, and I want to take that into next year for sure.”
Connolly has always prided himself on being an offensive player, and he doesn’t have to look far inside his own locker room to find offensive motivation. He had the luxury of watching and learning from the NHL’s top goal scorer Steven Stamkos. “You see a guy like Stamkos, who scored 60 goals, and is in the gym every day,” said Connolly. “It rubs off on you and it’s nice to be around that type of attitude.”
Connolly’s stay in Prince George won’t last long. He’ll be heading home to Toronto shortly, and will begin training for his sophomore season in the NHL.
Though he now lives in Toronto, Brett Connolly will forever hold the city of Prince George, and the Prince George Cougars organization in the highest regard. “The Prince George Cougars believed in me from at a very young age,” recalls Connolly. “I always enjoyed the management, all of the teammates I’ve had over the years, and the city of Prince George as a whole. I owe a lot to the organization.”