By Ryan McCracken on April 14, 2018.
David Quenneville was left wanting more out of his American HockeyLeague debut Friday night in Pennsylvania.
The 19-year-old Medicine Hat Tigers defenceman got his first taste of professional hockey after signing an amateur tryout agreement with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last week, but he was in no mood for celebrating after a 5-2 loss by the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
“It’s obviously exciting but at the same time it’s pretty disappointing with the loss,”said Quenneville, who signed a three-year entry level contract with the New York Islanders last week. “You want to make a good first impression and get a win, so that’s frustrating, but it felt good.”
The 5-foot-8, 187-pound Edmonton product spent his debut on Bridgeport’s third defensive pairing alongside 234-game AHL veteran Kane LaFranchise. While he finished with a minus-two rating and two shots on goal, Quenneville says it was great to learn from someone with as much experience as LaFranchise.
“It was awesome.He really helped me out a lot,”Quenneville said of LaFranchise, also from Edmonton. “A lot of communication on the bench and talking which helps me play my game and really helped simplify things for me.”
Quenneville added there were some noticable changes to the flow of the game from his usual role in the Western HockeyLeague, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle.
“The guys are a lot bigger and a lot faster but I thought I handled the pace well,” he said. “There are a few plays I think Ican improve on butit was a decent start.”
Quenneville is the second Tiger to make his AHL debut this week, as centre Mason Shaw hit the ice with the Iowa Wild on Tuesday after missing the entire WHL season with a torn ACL — and Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston says it’s truly rewarding to see them get their shot after four years of hard work in Medicine Hat.
“That’s essentially what our league is about. We want to win hockey games, we want to compete for a top spot every year, but the biggest thing is we are a developmental league. When you can have players go on and sign pro contracts and have an opportunity to make a living in the game that they love, that’s very exciting,” said Clouston. “It’s a credit to Mason and Dave and how much time and effort they’ve put into thier game.”
Bridgeport has been eliminated from playoff contention and will end the season with games Saturday in Hershey against the Bears and Sunday at home against the Charlotte Checkers.
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