Congratulations to Canada Winter Games alumni and Manitoba Moose goaltender Eric Comrie who will hit two important milestones this evening, April 6. He is starting in net for the very first time for the Winnipeg Jets and his debut will be his 100th pro game!
It’s January 2—the day after a major holiday—and Manitoba Moose goalie and Canada Games alumni Eric Comrie doesn’t want to get off the ice.
He’s too busy continuing to block shots from several other young teammates even though practice has ended. The 21-year old plays for the Moose as a Winnipeg Jets prospect, hoping to get picked up by the NHL team.
It’s not until some good-natured ribbing from fellow Canada Games alumnus and Moose captain Patrice Cormier that he skates off to the locker room to get changed.
That focus on the work of goaltending is one of the disciplines he was able to practise as a 16-year old at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax as part of Team Alberta.
“All the interactions and excitement happening at the Canada Games could make a player lose focus, and not play as well as they normally do,” says Comrie.
“You have learn to stay focused on your sport during an event and make sure that when you get to your task you take care of it, and then you can have fun,” he says.
For Comrie, another key part of the what he took away from participating in the Canada Games was about gaining a new life experience.
“(At the Canada Games) you meet new people, make new friends, and you learn to interact with different people,” he says, noting that experience helped him in being a part of a team.
One of Comrie’s Alberta teammates included Josh Morrissey, now a forward with the Moose NHL-affiliate, the Winnipeg Jets.
“I’m really close with (Morrissey),” he says. “I have a lot of good friends who have played in the tournament, so it’s a lot of fun to reminisce with them, and talk about the amount of fun we had there.”
He’s also still friends with Winnipeg Jets forward Nic Petan, who played against him at the time for Team British Columbia, who took home the gold medal that year.
Although his team didn’t win the gold, bringing home a bronze medal from the Canada Games in Halifax was a highlight for Comrie. Team Alberta has brought home a medal in hockey at the Canada Games every year since 1991.
“We went to Halifax expecting to win a gold or silver and unfortunately couldn’t do it, but winning the bronze medal for Alberta was pretty cool,” he says.
Being able to “keep the medal streak going for Alberta was a pretty special moment for our team.”
The opportunity the Canada Games provided to represent his home province of Alberta was also special to Comrie. He was born and raised in Edmonton but moved with his family to California when he was nine.
He still very much considers himself a Canadian.
He explains that in the Canada Games, “you’re representing your province like in the Olympics you’re representing your country. For myself, that’s something greater than just going out there and playing for a team.”
He also counts the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games as important experiences.
“Walking out into the opening ceremony, with your provincial team, flag and your banner, it was pretty exciting,” he says.
Comrie recalls witnessing the incredible respect the other athletes had for their home provinces, how much they wanted to win, and the amount of pride each athlete took in representing their provinces through sport.
“You meet a bunch of different athletes. You watch different sports, you see what’s going on. It’s a lot of fun,” he adds, adding that participating in the Canada Games was a major highlight of his hockey career.
And not just because it was a fun time.
“It really expands your horizons,” he says. “You realize you’re just a small little piece and that every athlete there is important.”
The Canada Games are considered a key event in the development of Canada’s young athletes from all 10 provinces and three territories, and Comrie is one example of an athlete who has been impacted in this way.
Two years after winning a bronze medal in the Canada Games, Comrie was selected by the Jets in the second round (59th overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Two years after that, he helped lead Team Canada to a gold medal in the IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal.
Regardless of what happens in Comrie’s career with the Manitoba Moose in the coming years, his dedication to improving his game and continued growth as a player make him a Canada Games alumnus to watch.