He’ll be an elite player, says Crocker

The Compass - - OR­THTE -

While in mid­get, Slaney played for the Tri-Pen Frost of the pro­vin­cial mid­get AAA league, which used the S.W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace as its home arena. His coach at the time was cur­rent Cee­Bees bench boss Corey Crocker.

“It’s like com­ing full cir­cle, re­ally,” he said after the Cee­Bees first prac­tice of the sea­son.

Slaney said it has been a dream of his to slide the red, white and blue of the Cee­Bees over his shoul­ders.

“I never thought it would come this early, but I’m cer­tainly ex­cited about it,” he said.

Decked out in Hamil­ton Bull­dogs gear, Slaney took to the ice for the first time with the Cee­Bees. He looked at home with the likes of Keith De­laney and Terry Ryan.

Slaney made the de­ci­sion to come home after de­cid­ing to re­turn to school after he was not of­fered a pro­fes­sional con­tract with the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens.

The 24-year-old fin­ished last sea­son with the Hamil­ton Bull­dogs of the Amer­i­can Hockey League and had four points in 21 games.

“I had a pretty good end in Hamil­ton last year, and I was pretty con­fi­dent I was go­ing to get a con­tract,” said Slaney.

But, with the lock­out loom­ing in the NHL, the con­tract never ma­te­ri­al­ized.

“The gen­eral man­ager called and said, ‘we don’t of­fer con­tracts that we don’t have jobs for,’” said Slaney.

With that, he de­cided to go a dif­fer­ent route.

Slaney had a cou­ple of of­fers come in, but made a life de­ci­sion.

“I had two years of el­i­gi­bil­ity left to play school hockey, I mean, hockey is only go­ing to last so long, so I de­cided to get an ed­u­ca­tion while it was paid for,” he said.

Slaney is en­rolled at St. Fran­cis Xavier Univer­sity in Antigo­nish, Nova Sco­tia, with hopes of pur­su­ing a ca­reer in medicine.

Slaney comes to the Cee­Bees in the prime of his ca­reer.

At six foot two and 203 pounds, he fig­ures to be a big part of the Cee­Bees sopho­more sea­son in the New­found­land and Labrador Se­nior Hockey League

Head coach Corey Crocker said the team is ex­cited to have Slaney on board.

“It’s re­ally a feel-good story,” he said. “Slaney de­cided on a dif­fer­ent route and we’re go­ing to be the ben­e­fi­cia­ries here, that he is go­ing to come home and play se­nior hockey in his home area.

“He’s go­ing to be a very ex­cit­ing player for the fans to watch.”

Crocker called Slaney a “born leader” and a “goal-driven” player and prides him­self on be­ing a pro.

The move for Slaney will help fill the hole left by the de­par­ture of cap­tain and fan-favourite Matthew Thomey.

“You’re not go­ing to re­place Matthew Thomey, but Robert Slaney is go­ing to be an elite player in this league,” said Crocker. “The big thing about Robert is his to­tal com­mit­ment. He wants to win and he is go­ing to do what­ever it takes to win.

“He’s just an­other piece of the puz­zle.”

The head coach de­scribed Slaney as “power for­ward” and said he is go­ing to be play­ing on the top lines for the club.

“He’s go­ing to be a big player for us this sea­son,” said Crocker. “It’s go­ing to be a plea­sure.” At the box of­fice Slaney’s pres­ence will not only be felt on the ice for the Cee­Bees. Be­ing a lo­cal boy, the Cee­Bees are sure to see a surge at the gate when the sea­sons starts later this month.

“What­ever it is, Up­per Is­land Cove re­ally sup­ports their own,” said as­sis­tant coach Peter Ge­orge.

It is that sup­port that Cee­Bees of­fi­cials will hope trans­lates into get­ting more fans through the doors at the sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

For long stretches last sea­son, the club saw mea­gre re­turns at the box of­fice, but that should all change once Slaney hits the ice.

Slaney said he was im­pressed with the team put to­gether by Crocker, who is also the Cee­Bees’ gen­eral man­ager.

“There were play­ers who were al­ready here and then he added a few good pieces,” he said. “I’m not go­ing to be play­ing this for fun. If you’re go­ing to play, I’d rather win.”

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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