In 2004-05, Phoenix Coyotes prospect Kevin Cormier played his first year in the QMJHL with the Halifax Mooseheads. Wasting little time, Cormier became an instant success in Halifax as an effective enforcer.
Heading into a new year, Cormier is looking to bring his game to another level. Not only will he be looked upon to patrol the ice, but also he will have to become a leader to young squad.
Hockey’s Future caught up with Cormier at the 2005 Rookie Tournament in San Jose, California. He talked about his junior career, his development and what the future holds.
HF: What was it like playing with Halifax?
KC: It was a confidence year for me last season. The Mooseheads were one of the top teams last year and we had three solid lines. I played on the fourth line and I knew my role. I knew I what I needed to do and I had 35 fights. I took on every tough guy in the league and made a name for myself during the process.
HF: You said you made a name for yourself in the league. Being the new kid on the block, how important was it for you to get out there and establish yourself right away?
KC: That was my goal from the start. I had six fights during the 2004-05 preseason. Then I attended the 2004 Rookie Tournament in Anaheim and had two fights. When I got back to Halifax, the word got out that Kevin Cormier was a fighter. I was proud of that. On the other hand, no one was scared. The players knew when they came to Halifax or I was in town, that I was in business and that I am very serious about my career.
HF: You mention that you had two fights in the 2004 Rookie Tournament. How important was it to come out here last year and make a good impression with management looking on?
KC: That was a real big issue for me because they took a chance on me by selecting me in the sixth round from Junior A. I felt that I had to put the odds in my favor and give it all I had.
HF: It looks like you have lost some weight and added some muscle. On the ice, it appears that you are trying to add another dimension to your game. What were your goals going into this past summer and what have you done to help get you to another plateau?
KC: This summer I worked very hard on my cardio. I lost somewhere from 15-20 pounds. When I finished last season, they told me that they wanted me lighter and faster. It is going to be harder to adapt because over the last two years, I’ve been playing on the third and fourth lines in Junior A and in Halifax. This year I’m going to have a bigger role with the Mooseheads when I return.
I am pretty happy with my two games here in the Rookie Tournament. Not only have I got into two fights, but also been making some hits and throwing the body around. That is what the coach wanted to see.
HF: In the second game against the Kings, you had a fight with Tyler Hanchuck?
KC: They scored and I had and I had to mix something up. I asked him to go and we threw the buckets off. He had a longer reach than I did. He moved in on me and tied up my left hand. Because my left wasn’t free, he got me with a couple good shots. It didn’t go that long and I guess I took the loss. I am not worried about it. The guy is four years older than me and I still have a lot to learn. He’s 23 and I’m 19, so I’ll have that experience, move forward and hope for the best.
HF: Less then two minutes later, your team responded with a goal to tie the game back up. Did you feel that you did your job and accomplished something?
KC: That is a big issue for me when I see the team score after I fight. I might have lost that battle but I love to help boost the team and I was happy they responded.
HF: Besides the fight, you increased your play on the forecheck. You able to get down low and help the other skilled guys create chances. Overall, how do you feel your overall performance was during game 2?
KC: I felt really good. Anything positive that I can bring to the team, I’ll bring it. They know I’m not a scorer so I am going to focus on doing things such as create room by laying the body around. I want to make my presence felt out there to take the attention away from my linemates.
HF: Looking forward to the 2005-06 season with Halifax, what are going to be the keys to your success?
KC: Heading into this year, I’m going to be a veteran. I’m going to be looked upon to be a leader because there is going to be a lot of 16 and 17-year-olds who are probably going to look up to me. I going to have to continue and play the way I have been playing these past two games here at the tournament.
I’m not going to have 35 fights like I did during the 2004-05 season. A lot of the tough guys left the league last year. I want to be a bigger leader and try to contribute by putting up some more points on the boards.
HF: You stressed the importance of being a leader next season. How important is that to you?
KC: It has been my biggest concern. I sat down with the coach after last season and he told me what my role was going to be. That also was part of me coming back this season lighter and faster. I did this for the team because I’m dedicated to the Mooseheads. I’m really happy with it so far.
I already played in a preseason game before I came out here. During that game, I had a fight and an assist. It felt pretty good. I can’t wait to get back and the season to start.
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