Connor Blake making a smooth transition
CALGARY -- Connor Blake has always had to battle against the odds in his hockey career.
At just 5 foot 7, Blake says he was always trying to prove people wrong.
"Definitely, my size has always been a factor for me but I’ve always found a way to overcome it."
There was something else Blake had to overcome in his first year with the Cougars.
Head coach Bert Gilling switched him from forward to defence.
Gilling says he told him of the plan when he was recruiting Blake.
"I sat down and I looked at him and said 'We’d like to extend you a spot on our team to you, Connor, but there’s a little catch to it,'" he told CTV News.
"He kind of looked at me and said 'What’s that?' And I said, 'Well we’re going to recruit you as a defenceman.'"
Keep in mind, Blake had never played that position before because he was always a centre.
Blake says he took it as a challenge and embraced it.
"I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder, especially this year," he said. "I had a lot of naysayers, especially switching to defence. Definitely having that chip on my shoulder is a little extra motivation for me."
The move has paid off for Blake and the Cougars.
With six goals and 13 assists in 22 games, he’s one of the top scoring defenceman in the Canada West and he’s going to be named to the All-Rookie team.
Team captain Tyson Helgesen, Blake’s defence partner, says he’s amazed at how smooth the transition has been.
"Like, he's in his first year to become one of the top offensive defenceman in the league. It’s pretty awesome to see how well he’s doing. He’s a great kid and I’m happy for him.”
Blake worked hard to make the transition. In the summer, he pored over video and changed his routine summer skating to defence.
Blake says he’s happy it’s worked out so well.
"I wanted to play the best level of hockey I could and I thought this gave me that opportunity so I ran with it.”
Blake's dream is still to play professional hockey and, you never know, maybe this move will open the door to his dream.
Blake and the Cougars are back in action this weekend with a home-and-home series against the Lethbridge Pronghorns.