Brandonite Andrew Clark is heading back to the ECHL after joining Stockton last spring upon completing his CIS career at Acadia. (FILE PHOTO)
There were very few things lacking from Andrew Clark’s first shot at professional hockey.
The 25-year-old Brandonite joined the ECHL’s Stockton Thunder last spring after finishing his season at Acadia University and started scoring right off the bat. He had three goals and two assists in four regular-season games before adding seven goals and 14 assists in 22 playoff contests to help the Thunder reach the league final.
Still, the former Brandon Wheat Kings standout says he’s still got some goals to realize.
"I’m just trying to work on my overall game," said Clark, who will head to California within the next couple of weeks to prepare for the start of Stockton’s training camp on Oct 4. "I went down and had quite a bit of success last year at the end of the year, so I’m just trying to look to build off that."
One of Clark’s goals is to get a shot at the American Hockey League. After tying for third in ECHL playoff scoring, he hoped his superb post-season would get himself a look this season from a team at a higher level. That hasn’t been the case yet, but the 5-foot-11, 178-pound forward said he’s willing to continue paying his dues to get that shot.
"I’m old enough now where people should have an idea of what I’m all about, but maybe if it just takes that little bit extra time, that’s just something I’ll have to go with and do," he said.
Clark has been a productive player wherever he has been, going back to his midget days when he helped the Wheat Kings win the Telus Cup national AAA title. After a season with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Neepawa Natives, he joined the Western Hockey League’s Wheat Kings, totalling 216 points in 254 games, including a 40-goal season in 2008-09. He was even better at Acadia, earning 131 points in 111 career games and being named Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s male hockey player of the year in 2012.
Even if he doesn’t step up to the AHL this season, Clark has some goals in mind for the Thunder, including claiming the ECHL’s Kelly Cup title after their bid was denied this past spring by the Reading Royals.
"I didn’t find it to be too much of a jump from CIS," said Clark, who has skated frequently as a defenceman in Wheat King practices during the WHL pre-season. "CIS is a great league and it’s getting to be a lot better than what some people might give it credit for, but going to the finals last year, you learn what it takes to win. Some guys were saying last year that they’ll never get back there, so hopefully we’ll just learn from what happened and get back there this year."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 17, 2013