April 13th, 2024

Quenneville brings wealth of experience back from Isles camp

By Ryan McCracken on September 27, 2017.


Experience goes a long way.

The Medicine Hat Tigers entered Friday’s season-opening loss with a combined 141 games of Western Hockey League experience on the blue line. But the Tigers received another 181 games of experience overnight with the return of David Quenneville, and with it they bounced back for their first win of the year.

“Dave took a lot of pressure off (the newer) guys, to not have to play against second lines or first lines,” said Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston of Quenneville, who returned from New York Islanders camp in the dark hours of Saturday morning. “He did a tremendous job against the other team’s top guys.”

Quenneville’s experience extends well past the WHL. The 19-year-old Edmonton product has competed with Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial, the IIHF Under-18 World Championship and a pair of pre-season stints with the Isles after being drafted 200th overall in 2016.

While his wealth of WHL familiarity was certainly evident in Saturday’s 4-0 bounce-back from Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Quenneville says his recent NHL experience may have been what set him apart from the pack.

“The pace is so high and everything is so crisp in the NHL. It really forces you to get your feet going while still thinking and having to read and make plays,” said Quenneville, adding he hopes to bring that level of drive into the Tigers dressing room. “When you’re tested like that every single day —there’s no practices off, there’s no drills off, you have to go hard every 30 seconds —it’s huge. You get that consistency in your game. If I can bring that back here and show that every day to the young guys and help them learn, that’d be awesome.”

The blueliner is entering his fourth season with the Tigers and coming off one of the strongest years of his career despite suffering a broken leg to start the second half of the campaign. While Quenneville says the injury impacted his performance following his return last season, he dedicated the summer to fully rehabilitating his leg and entering the season in peak condition. And what better motivation than an NHL training camp.

“Any time you can throw on an NHL jersey it’s really special — with the name bar on the back, I think we all dream of that as kids. That was awesome,” said Quenneville, who logged 23 goals and 36 assists in 49 games last season. “I had to put in a lot of work this summer to come back off that leg injury— I wasn’t moving so great at the end of last year — but I felt really good there for the most part.”

While his teammates Zach Fischer and Mason Shaw suffered injuries at camps with the Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild, respectively, Quenneville may have taken the heaviest hit of the three during a rookie game against the Philadelphia Flyers. After entering the offensive zone, Quenneville was run over by Flyers winger Matthew Strome — knocking his helmet loose and sending him into concussion protocol. Thankfully Quenneville was not injured on the play, and he still managed to spoil Strome’s night.

“We got the last laugh in a 4-3 win in OT,” said Quenneville. “I went through the concussion protocol and was good to go, but that’s hockey.”

Quenneville opened the year with a new defensive partner after spending the last few season alongside Ty Schultz. While his new partner, Linus Nassen, only took in his first WHL game on Friday, the swift Swede still enters the league with a wealth of experience as a third-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers — and Quenneville says he’s looking forward to seeing what the two can accomplish together.

“I played with Schultz for the past three years so I didn’t know how it was going to go, getting a new partner, but he moves the puck quick,” Quenneville said of Nassen. “I think we go really well together.”

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