When local hockey nerds discuss under-rated hockey players from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Chris Owens name has to be in the conversation. The 30 year old St. John's native took some time this week to answer some questions on his lengthy playing career, pass along some advice to young defenceman, and share some stories about the CJHL Coach of the Year Billy Mcguigan (which could not be discussed in this interview; Billy, if you're reading this, the "donut bag skate" has not been forgotten and had both of us laughing on the phone!) Enjoy.
AP: Chris, you were what some would describe as a late bloomer. You were drafted by the then PEI Rocket in the QMJHL, but really found your way at the MHL level in Miramichi. Lets talk about your 4 years on "the river"
CO: I went to PEI camp my rookie year, but ended up in Miramichi early in the season. There were a lot of Newfies there at the time, and Bill Riley was coaching. It was the best thing for me because I got to play in a lot of situations and develop confidence. At the major junior level I wasn't getting the same opportunities, so playing in Miramichi was really beneficial for me. It's a lot of fun when you're playing on the PP and PK, and all the extra ice time definitely made me become a better player.
AP: You played parts of 2 seasons in the coast (ECHL) with Missouri after 5 seasons with Acadia University (USPORT); what made you leave Missouri and head to Europe?
CO: I loved my time in Missouri - the team, the town, the people were great and I have nothing but good to say about my time there. But I was an older rookie in the East Coast League (age 24) and the opportunity to move up (to higher levels) really wasn't there. I received a really good offer from the Austrian League, which was a real hard league to get into at the time, so I took it. I also thought that it would be a great way to continue my career while seeing a different part of the world.
AP: You've played 6 seasons in 3 different countries (Austria, Germany, and Slovakia). Which country was your favourite to play in?
CO: I really liked living in Germany. I feel that if I had have been playing in the DEL1, I don't think I would have left. From a hockey perspective, the Austrian league was awesome. Our team was really good in Slovakia; I feel like we would have made a run at a league championship if COVID-19 did not happen. It was disappointing to have our season end the way it did; I'll probably end up back in Slovakia in 2020-21, but it depends on a lot of factors related to COVID-19.
AP: There are a lot of good young defenceman in the province who are moving up the levels and trying to make a career out of hockey. What's one piece of advice that you would give them?
CO: Don't be afraid - not in a sense of being afraid to get hit, but don't be afraid in a sense of taking a risk to make a play. Even though coaches don't like when you make a risky pass and it gets picked off and ends up in your net, they want to see that you have the confidence and fearlessness to make a tough play instead of always being safe. Also - don't be afraid of the competition; you're just as good as the player next to you. You just have to believe that and play with confidence.
To check out more on Chris, hit up the world wide web https://www.eliteprospects.com/player/40283/chris-owens .
Until next time,