By Kris Smith
Omar Pacha has once again plucked out some top talent from the university leagues in North America. He has acquired the services of Canadian defencemen, Connor Cox and Drydn Dow, as well as American centre Charles Corcoran.
All three signed their first professional contracts with the Kitmart Dundee Stars this summer and each of them is looking forward to the chance to prove themselves in the pros.
University of Saskatchewan graduate, Connor Cox spent five seasons with the Huskies in the USports league and is ready to take on the challenge of his first professional season.
Connor said: “It’s very exciting to be joining the pro leagues and the Dundee stars organisation.
“My experience so far has been very good and the people I’ve met in Dundee and who are part of the organisation really make you feel like part of a family, so that makes the transition much smoother.”
Despite playing less than 30 games in a season, collegiate hockey is tough, Cox explains: “The biggest challenge about playing in university over there was learning how to manage your time, as school was the first priority and you had to maintain your grades in order to stay eligible to play.
“It is a bit of an adjustment in the beginning after playing junior for five years and playing roughly 80 games a season, to then only playing 28 games in a season.
“I enjoyed my time at the university of Saskatchewan and I believe the lessons I learned from my experiences there both on and off ice, will help me throughout my first pro season here in Dundee.”
One big adjustment for each player is the change in ice size, as the Elite League play on the much larger European size ice. However, the 26-year old is happy to move to the bigger ice pad, he said: “I am excited about the different play style and bigger ice, I think with the extra room will benefit my style of play.
“It might take me a few days to get my legs back after the long travel, but I think in the long run I will enjoy the extra space out there.”
25-year old d-man Drydn Dow, joined Dundee from the University of Calgary after also playing five seasons in the USports league. He was excited to be joining the pros, commenting: “I’m very excited to have signed in this league with the Stars, in the short time I’ve been here you can already feel the support from everyone in the club, so I’m looking forward to getting the season going.”
Dow also compared his time at university and how it has prepared him for this year.
“Going from junior to college in America is a bit of an adjustment because of the added time commitment of trying to focus on both hockey and your studies.” He said.
Drydn added: “There is also fewer games played in the college season to help accommodate to the busy school schedule, as for the hockey side I’m grateful for the time spent with the University of Calgary.
“Through the experiences I had at school I think I have learned a lot that can benefit me as I start my pro career with Dundee.”
He is also less worried about the change in the size of the ice pad but hopes he can adjust to the British style quickly.
Drydn said: “Back home our team actually played our home games on a larger ice surface, so I have been fortunate enough to have some experience on it already.
“I am sure the style of play will be a bit of an adjustment coming from college to pro hockey but I’m excited for the challenge and hope that the adjustment period will be quick.”
Meanwhile American forward, Charles Corcoran played his way through four years of NCAA with Brown University before Omar Pacha signed him up for this season.
The 23-year old shared his thoughts on transitioning between the Elite League and the American equivalent of the Canadian USports league.
Firstly, Charles expressed his delight at joining the Stars, he said: “I am very happy to sign my first pro contract, especially in Dundee.
“From speaking with Omar it is a an exciting time to be a part of the organisation and it is awesome that I was able to sign on with a great group of guys”.
He then explained the NCAA league style and how it has benefited him, he continued: “College hockey in the states is a very competitive league, our team played less of a possession game and tried to wear teams down.
“I definitely developed more of a defensive aspect to my game within my time there, it was definitely the best route for my development and I enjoyed every second of it.
Charles then talked about how he feels about the switching to the European style ice, he said: “I played on an Olympic size sheet in high school, so I have a pretty good understanding of it.
“I think my style of play fits into how we as a team are looking to play, so hopefully I’ll be able to contribute in any way possible.
“I’m looking forward to the longer season and hope to transition well into the league.”
All three players are working hard to be ready to take on EHC Freiburg this weekend, you can get your tickets HERE!