St. Denis At Home with Bridgeport
By Alan Fuehring / Sound Tigers
When Travis St. Denis traveled nearly 2,800 miles from western Canada to the campus of Quinnipiac University in the summer of 2012, he had no idea what the northeast would have in store. He only had a slight indication that it would play such an important part in his life, and hockey career.
“I didn't know what to expect going in,” said St. Denis, thinking back to his initial college visit. “I liked the area and especially (Quinnipiac's) hockey program, but there are so many schools out there, you never know.”
Turns out, he fit in pretty well. St. Denis, who turned 26 on Sunday, went on to play four seasons with the Bobcats and collected 125 points (60 goals, 65 assists) and a plus-30 rating in 162 career games. He quickly became a fan favorite and team leader, wearing an “A” on his sweater as an alternate captain and helping Quinnipiac to the 2016 Frozen Four championship game as a senior alongside New York Islanders prospect Devon Toews.
“Going that far in my final season at Quinnipiac was definitely the highlight of my college career,” St. Denis said. “And doing it with Devon made it that much more special. We got along so well on and off the ice and it was awesome to win a conference title and make it that far together.”
“I never thought I'd turn pro with him,” St. Denis continued, grinning cheek to cheek.
But that's just what happened, and only 30 minutes down the road from Quinnipiac's campus at that. St. Denis agreed to an American Hockey League contract with the Sound Tigers in July of 2016 and earned 12 goals and eight assists in 50 games, a respectable rookie season for an undersized, 5'7, 170-pound forward.
“Coming into last year I didn't really know what to expect with it being my first pro year. I had a great season and everyone was great in the organization from the management to the coaches to my teammates.”
That includes Toews, who helped St. Denis with the transition from the collegiate game to the professional one.
“I was a bit nervous last year in camp and I think Toews, along with Connor and Kellen Jones, were the only guys I knew,” St. Denis said. This year, I'm definitely a little bit more comfortable and I'm probably one of the oldest guys here too so I'm trying to be a leader in the locker room and be vocal on and off the ice.”
What a difference a year makes.
“Heading into the offseason, Bridgeport is somewhere I wanted to play again and luckily enough, I'm back with them this season.”
Sounds like St. Denis has found a second home.
Now situated and preparing for his second pro season, St. Denis has been fully focused on improving his game on the ice. He's not coming in blind this year, now that he has a full season of AHL experience to lean on and prepare for in the gym.
“This offseason, I've just been trying to get my legs stronger,” St. Denis said. “Obviously in the American Hockey League versus college there's bigger guys, and I felt like at times last year I was getting pushed off the puck a little bit too easy, so that's been one of my key focuses over the summer.”
It's clear during training camp that he had a successful offseason in that regard. He had the opportunity to skate with Michael Dal Colle and Mathew Barzal on a line during Islanders Rookie Camp – a big stage as the season gears up. It's a chance to show the coaches he can play with top-line players and embrace that role.
A role that could serve his adopted hometown team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, very well this season.