Being traded is rarely easy for a Western Hockey League player, but for Prince Albert Raiders forward Dakota Conroy, every move has meant a new opportunity.
Conroy began his WHL career last season in Brandon, seeing limited action on a veteran team before being traded to the first-year Victoria Royals in the blockbuster deal that brought Kevin Sundher to the Wheat City.
A 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-winger from Edmonton, Conroy saw a little more ice time in Victoria, scoring seven goals in 30 games with the Royals, but lasted only one game there this season before being shipped off to the Raiders for a seventh-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft. It’s proven to be a bargain for Prince Albert as Conroy has blossomed in his new surroundings, with nine goals and 17 points in 21 games as a Raider, heading into last night’s battle with the Wheat Kings.
"Going to P.A. really was good for me," said Conroy, 18, who had four goals and four assists in 30 games as a Wheat King. "I got a fresh start and an opportunity to show them what I had, and I thought I did a pretty good job with it in the early stages. And ever since it’s kept rolling for me. Pucks have been going in and I’ve been getting points, and not only that but the team’s been doing well."
A club that hasn’t had a .500 record in its last nine seasons, the Raiders have been one of this year’s biggest surprises in the WHL. Entering Friday, the club led the East Division, and was battling for first place in the Eastern Conference, with a
"I’m not too sure what happened (in past seasons) but I know the boys are just such a tight-knit group," Conroy said. "We’re always together and we’re all happy to be at the rink. … We’re loving it right now and I can see it continue to happen as long as we all stay positive and keep focused on what’s ahead."
With the start that they’ve had, Conroy said the team has made staying in contention and maintaining first place in the division as priorities this season. He feels if chips fall the right way, the Raiders even have the potential to represent the WHL in this season’s Memorial Cup in nearby Saskatoon.
He said the long-suffering fans in P.A. have been more than happy to come along for the ride as well.
"We see (the fans’ excitement) on social media and all that," he said. "You’ve got fans tweeting after each win, tweeting about coming to the games and doing everything like that. Even playing in that rink when it’s rocking, it’s a pretty good feeling."