Q: What has life been like since you’ve gone pro through NCAA and now in Bridgeport in the AHL?
A: It’s been great. Playing pro hockey was something I always dreamed about growing up. Now that it’s happening I just try and enjoy each day at the rink because it’s something you can’t do forever and time goes by way too fast. Coming out of college I didn’t really know what to expect but I was glad I signed with such a great organization.
St. Denis was a product of the Trail hockey system, playing his way up through the Kootenay Ice of the BC Major Midget League and earning his way into the BCHL as a 16-year-old in 2008-2009. In his first season St. Denis would score 15 goals and add 22 assists for 37 points. Over the next two season he’d add 109 points in 104 games in both the regular season and playoffs.
Q: You spent three seasons with your hometown team. When you think back to making the team in 08/09 what was the biggest thing you had to learn jumping into the league as a young player?
A: The biggest thing I had to learn was probably how to play against bigger players. My 16 year old year I think I was 5’7 135lbs so I wasn’t the biggest guy on the ice. The first few games was definitely nerve racking but I played on a line with one of our fighters so that definitely made me feel more comfortable out there. It allowed me to play feisty without getting beat up.
Q: You’ve played in some pretty big games in your career and have been on both sides, winning an RBC Cup in Penticton and played in two NCAA Division one title games, what is something you’ve learned, maybe not from just those big games, but from your career so far that you wish your younger self had known or you’d want young players today to know?
A: You just have to enjoy the journey and not take anything for granted. Winning a national championship is something I’ll always remember but so is losing a national championship. Obviously no one wants to lose but just the journey to get to that point are the things you always remember.
In his 20-year-old season St. Denis was acquired by the Penticton Vees, where he would ultimately become a part of Canadian Junior A Hockey History winning the RBC Cup, a Doyle Cup and a Fred Page Cup before heading off to Quinnipiac University. He finished off his junior career with 261 points in 240 games played . He then had a four year stint that saw him play in two Frozen Four finals for the NCAA Div 1 title, unfortunately losing both times, but still managing 125 points in 162 games. St. Denis also wore the “A” for the Bobcats in his final season.
Q: As a current player in the AHL, how do you keep on top of your game given the abrupt end to the season and the uncertainty of the upcoming one. What advice would you give to younger players trying to stay sharp for the upcoming season.
A: It was pretty crazy how it all happened. We had a weekday game and the next day we got a text saying don’t come to the rink for a week and then it turned into months. Some advice I would give is to focus on your off ice habits like working out and keeping up with your skills away from the ice. I think taking some time off the ice is great for your body and mind to focus on how you want to prepare your body for the upcoming season.
Now as a full time player in the American Hockey League (AHL) he continues the game he loves as he establishes himself in Bridgeport. In his second season St. Denis led the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in goals and points and had a 5 point game that tied a franchise record as he scored his first pro hat trick. With a wealth of hockey memories behind him St. Denis still remembers his first game as a Smoke Eaters fondly as he prepares for the upcoming AHL Season.
Q: Favourite memory of growing up in Trail or playing as a Smoke Eater?
A: My favorite memory is definitely my first game playing in Trail. As a kid I was a die hard Smokies fan so jumping onto the ice for the first time in front of all my family and friends is something I’ll never forget. Playing for my hometown team is something I’ll cherish forever.