Opening night was extra special for one Bridgeport Sound Tiger, defenseman Bruno Gervais, who experienced a 2003-04 season full of highs and lows, invites and send-downs, injury and even coaching. But opening night this season, he scored his first professional goal in his first professional game. As Gervais stepped out into the Sound Tigers locker room to face the local media, a big smile beamed from his face to those who were waiting for him. “Hi, I’m Bruno,” he said as he introduced himself to everyone, shaking everyone’s hands and getting their names in the process. Confident, yet humble, his personality is much like his presence on the ice as he patrols the blue line for the Sound Tigers.
Here’s what the talented defenseman had to say about his experience with the Islanders organization so far after the Sound Tigers 4-1 opening night victory.
HF: Last season, you lasted with the New York Islanders until the final cut of the preseason. How did that boost your confidence?
BG: That was great. At the moment, when I came back it was a big step. There were great people all around you, so it made your job easier. I wanted the full experience over there.
But when you come close and you go back, it doesn’t really count. You know, it’s different. When I went back to playing juniors, I had my injury and my surgery. When I came back here [this year], I didn’t have that in mind. I knew I had to work back, and work really hard to get back to where I was. So I had to put my head down and just work really hard.
HF: Did your teammates help you fit into the locker room?
BG: Oh yeah, it’s been great. I know the guys were going to talk a lot, like at first, but they came to me and talked to me and helped me out. All those defensemen back there just help each other. Everybody’s in the room just making us more comfortable so it makes us play better.
HF: Was it disappointing that you were sent back to juniors last year? What did you expect to come out of last season?
BG: Yeah. When I went [to Islanders camp] at first, I went there with clothes for five days. I had one clean shirt, that was it. Because we were going to a rookie tournament, and it was like ‘only guys with contracts go to the real camp.’ So I just went there to the rookie tournament, thinking just do your best and you know you’re going back home.
After the rookie tournament I had nothing else to wear. Then they came to me and said ‘You have to go to real camp.’ So I was a little bit surprised. At first you’re really excited and want to go, and then there’s some part of you going, ‘Oh my god, this is big!’ So I went there just taking it one day at a time. I didn’t know when I was going to go back. I just took it one day at a time and just waited, waited, and waited. Then just to be there at the end, and I knew it was a big step.
When I got sent down, I was pretty disappointed. I wanted to stay there. I had so much fun. It was great. It’s what I want to do in my life. I want to be there as soon as I can, but things happen.
HF: You had your injury at the Canadian National Junior Team camp. How did that happen?
BG: It was a bad break. I was going behind the net and I hit a dull edge on the ice with my blade. I got hit at the same time. But it wasn’t the hit because it was the fact that I lifted and I put all my weight on the same leg. My leg was twisted and it snapped right away.
HF: Did it discourage you at all?
BG: No, not at all actually. You’ve got to look at it positively and I love a challenge. I just took that as a big challenge. I got spent all Christmas long back home and I even got to be an assistant coach with my junior team. So it was different. I had all of this different stuff to do. I knew I was going to come back and try to get back to where I was.
HF: I was just going to ask you on your coaching experience. Did that give you a new perspective on how you look at things?
BG: Oh yeah. Way different. Because it’s two different games. When you’re on the ice, you focus on your game. You do more for yourself and how you can help your team. When I was back there and took care of the D, (Junior Coach) Real Paiement was a great coach and I learned a lot. When I went to the coaches meeting, and the way they see things, like why they put this guy there or why they take this guy out and stuff like that, so when there is a decision by Cro (Sound Tigers Coach, Greg Cronin) and Bags (Assistant Coach Dave Baseggio), I understand way more like ‘Why is he doing that?’ It helps me see the game a little bit more.
HF: How does it feel to finally play again and to make your professional debut?
BG: It feels great. Actually, just after the game today, I got the monkey off my back. Just looking around to see I’m back where I want to be just to be on the ice and playing my game. It’s been so long between my two games, like 10 or 11 months, so I was just looking back saying ‘Here I am, I’m back.’ I just gotta keep going and work hard.
HF: Finally, how did it feel scoring your first professional goal with the Sound Tigers?
BG: It was awesome! I was surprised by the pass. It was a great pass by Mapes (Justin Mapletoft) but I just shot the puck at the net and it was a lucky bounce for us.
Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.