You don’t see many 26-year-old rookies in the American Hockey League.
“I got a few grey hairs coming in,” said new Moose forward Chris Collins.
The newest member of the Manitoba team took an unorthodox route to the pro game.
After parts of five WHL seasons with the Saskatoon Blades and the Chilliwack Bruins, Collins couldn’t find a team as a 20-year-old so he went back to Tier 2 in the Alberta Junior Hockey League for his final year of junior eligibility before joining the University of Calgary Dinos.
“It wasn’t looking like I was going to play too high a level of pro hockey for awhile so I decided to pursue the U Sports option,” Collins said.
But the hockey player never gave up on his pro dreams, and after five seasons with the Dinos, Collins got a crack at the ECHL this season.
“I’m not ready to join the workforce yet,” Collins said. “The way I approached it was just if you put in the work off the ice, and then (you’ve) just got to show up to the rink everyday, whatever league you’re playing in.”
“You’re not clocking in every day — you’re playing hockey so you can put a smile on and play, or you can mope and say ‘Why am I not there?'”
Collins made the most of his opportunity. He was leading the league in scoring when the Moose came calling last week.
“I had just finished a game, and it was a really weird game where it was 10-8 so it was like the world was flipped upside down,” Collins said. “And then my coach called me in and told me that Manitoba had called me up so I didn’t know if I was in a dream or something.”
“Your path and my path are different,” Moose head coach Pascal Vincent said. “And his path has been different than somebody else. It’s a great example that when you don’t give up, there’s always a chance.”
Collins scored his first AHL goal in his second game with the Moose, and he is hoping there will be many more to come.
WATCH: Long road to AHL for Chris Collins