Even though Corey Chorneyko, the new captain of the Spruce Grove Saints, will start the season on the shelf he is still leading by example. That, the fourth-year veteran says, is what it takes to be a Saint and as such he’ll happily do so in practice sessions for now and then in game action when he returns to the lineup in a few weeks.
Speaking after the Saints 3-2 win over Sherwood Park, their fourth win in six pre-season games, the man many consider a consummate Saint discussed his thoughts on this year’s club. He agreed it is a sort of rebuild year but at the same time he realizes this team just reloads rather than starting from scratch. As such, his main focus early on, along with the other returning players, is to make the rookies feel comfortable and bring them up to speed as quickly as possible.
“There are lots of guys coming in so we have to set the tone early for the guys. Camp is very important, not only for us but for the new guys to show them what’s expected on and off the ice,” Chorneyko said. “They’ve got to know there’s never a day off.”
For many of the new players on the Saints this step in their hockey career is huge, going from midget Triple A to junior A. Chorneyko has made that journey himself so he knows what it’s all about.
“It is a big jump but at the same time the older guys like to help out the younger guys, make each other better. It seems like we get lots of guys into games (as call-ups for injury replacements) the year before so that helps them a lot. We have a lot of skill coming up and it seems like it will be another great year.”
One just doesn’t assume the role of a leader — it has to be learned. The new captain explained that during his first year he was mentored by veteran Matt Noll who taught him how to be a Saint.
That, he said, played a key role in helping him become the player, and the leader, he’s turned into during his tenure in the Grove.
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