by Danielle Bernstein || AHL On The Beat Archive
On March 28, San Antonio Rampage forward Connor Brickley was playing in what would be his final college hockey game, a 5-2 loss with the University of Vermont to eventual national champion Union in the NCAA tournament.
Just four days later, he was on a plane to Texas after signing an amateur tryout contract with the Rampage and making his professional debut.
The Florida Panthers’ second-round (50th overall) pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Brickley has made an impressive start with the Rampage. He tallied an assist in his first pro game, getting the secondary assist on a Jared Gomes goal late in a 5-3 loss to Lake Erie. The Everett, Mass., native scored his first pro goal in a 3-0 win over the Monsters on April 5.
In addition to helping Vermont to its sixth NCAA tournament appearance and first since the 2009-10 season, Brickley has played with the Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL) and has international experience. He played for Team USA at the U-18 World Championships and was a member of the U.S. World Junior Team in 2012, but was injured in the team’s first game against Denmark and missed the rest of the tournament.
Brickley took time to answer a few questions about his first couple weeks playing pro hockey and his experience with the Rampage so far.
How has the transition from college to the Rampage been for you?
Everything is going well. It’s been a good transition. There are a lot of things that are different just from the way everything is run – equipment to practices. Everyone in the locker room is a great guy. I’ve learned a lot.
You’re skating with new teammates – what has the experience been like to learn from and play with these guys?
Whether it’s in practice or a game, every time you come off the ice, one of the older guys, whoever it may be, has something to give you – little things, critiques to make you better. I think that’s been the most exciting part. Learning is part of the game, so it’s great.
How did it feel to score your first pro goal?
It was definitely exciting. It was cool to get the first one. I wasn’t really thinking too much about it. I just came in here trying to play hard every day and earn the respect of my teammates and the coaching staff.
Looking back at your career at Vermont, what will you remember most?
Definitely my senior class. My first three years there weren’t that successful. The thing I’ll remember most is my class getting to the NCAA tournament with the help of all my teammates and the younger guys who came in. I just hope all the younger guys who came in can continue the legacy.
The season is wrapping up. What are you looking to accomplish with the time left?
I just want to work hard and continue learning. I came in here with about eight games left and I’ve already played six. Every day is something different and something new. Everything is still fresh for me and I just hope I bring some fresh energy for the boys and just keep growing and developing.