Corner Brook’s Neil Woolfrey carries the puck in this 2012 photo.
— Star file photo
Neil Woolfrey had to work for every bit of ice he got with the Cornwall Colts in his rookie campaign, but he’s willing to wait for his chance to shine.
The Corner Brook native recently wrapped up his rookie season with the Colts in the Central Canada Hockey League Tier 1 Junior A setup in Ontario after being bounced from the playoff picture in a quarter-final loss to the Ottawa Junior Senators in five games in a best-of-seven showdown.
“Ice time was hard to come by sometimes. I had to fight for every bit of ice time I got,” Woolfrey said Thursday from Cornwall. “It was rough, but I was also a rookie so you should get used to that as a rookie, but next year should be different for me.”
He finished the season with one goal and four assists in a limited role as he tried to keep a positive attitude while being inserted in and out of the lineup throughout the year.
Woolfrey was a key cog in helping the Colemans Western Kings win its first provincial major midget crown since 1997 before he graduated from the program and started looking at future gigs. The shifty forward, who won most sporstminded player at the 2013 Atlantic Major Midget Hockey Championship with the Kings, finished fourth in team scoring in the regular campaign with 18 goals and 19 assists.
However, he was fully aware that the challenge would be steeper at the next level of hockey and that was certainly the case in his first season with the Colts.
He found out very quickly that the game is played a faster pace and he struggled with that reality for the first month, but slowly became adjusted with every passing game and practice at the Tier 1 Junior A level.
“It was fast. A lot faster,” he said with a hearty chuckle.
Woolfrey has his gear packed away for another winter and now he’s busy finishing up some college courses with every intention of being home on the Rock in three weeks time to see family and friends.
But, he also knows he will have to keep a hectic training schedule in place because he has to be bigger and faster when he goes back for his sophomore season.
“I also need to keep working on my shot because that’s a big key to my game, shooting,” he said.
He hasn’t talked to the coach since the Colts season came to a close with an early playoff exit, but he’s pretty sure there will be a return.
“It was good. I enjoyed it. I improved a lot and I learned a lot about the systems and everything up here, and learned to live away from home,” he said.