Thriving Under the Radar
Canisius' Conacher Dominates in Obscurity
by Becky Ebert/CHN Reporter
You're never going to get much publicity playing at Canisius. But Cory Conacher has done wonders in making a name for himself simply through his emergence as a bona fide talent.
Coming off a season where he was named Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year, the senior has 12 points in 10 games, and was named Atlantic Hockey Player for the month of October. In their first game of the season, Canisius beat Western Michigan 5-3, in which Conacher recorded his second career hat trick along with an assist.
To just keep on playing despite obstacles, is par for the course for Conacher.
The Burlington, Ontario, native was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of eight. Conacher, at 5-foot-8, 175-pounds, wears an insulin pump and tests his sugar levels multiple times a day to keep his diabetes under control. The small device, about the size of a deck of cards, allows Cory to keep his blood sugar levels in range without the continuous needlework.
“After finding out,” Conacher said. “I just tried to keep pushing along and live life like any other other kid out there.”
Hockey has played a big role in the everyday lives of Cory and his family. His older brother, younger sister and another younger brother all been on the ice at some point while growing up. Cory’s father, who owns Wave Twin Rinks in Burlington, was the first to put a stick in his hands.
“My Dad played Junior As and got offers from schools, but decided to take the other route and fall in love with my mom,” said Cory. “He went to college in Canada and became an accountant. He bought into a couple rinks in my hometown, so when there is open ice, we all get out there.”
Currently undrafted, Conacher has not only made it a point to graduate from Canisius with a degree in finances, but post notable grades in the classroom. In both his freshman and sophomore year, Cory was named to the Atlantic Hockey Academic All-Conference Team. However, the chance of Conacher receiving an offer from a professional hockey team doesn’t seem like such a stretch.
“There’s been a couple teams looking at me, you get a little stressed thinking about who’s watching you,” said Conacher. “I just have to try and get away from that and think about my game. Hopefully in the end, it will all work out.”
In his freshman year, Conacher recorded 17 points in 20 games and 35 points in 36 games during his sophomore year. It wasn’t until his junior season that Cory lit up the score sheet with 20 goals and 33 assists, making for a total of 53 points in 35 games. Now what could have happened during the offseason to spark such an offensive fire? Well, according to Cory, it’s all because of Canisius head coach, Dave Smith.
“In my freshman and sophomore years, coach realized that I needed to utilize that more. He definitely emphasized on shooting and by getting five to six shots on net, one could squeak in,” said Conacher. “Getting those shots on net has helped my game. I have to thank coach for forcing me to shot the puck more and having great linemates.”
Smith, who joined Canisius in 2005, has since turned around a struggling hockey organization and ended the last two seasons with a record of 15-16-6 and 17-15-5. Along with assisting his players on the ice, Smith makes an effort to keep his team on track inside the classroom and out in the community. By keeping tabs and building relationships with his players, Smith has made it mandatory for every player to become involved in the Buffalo community. Conacher has now been involved with the Buffalo Shamrocks Hockey Club, where he lends hand with the coaching of young players.
A kid who was once cut from a AAA team due to his small stature, Conacher doesn’t think of it as a burden, but rather a motivation to continue improving his strength and quickness. Sure, having your Dad’s ice facility at your leisure is a huge benefit, but to actually have the work ethic off the ice, well, that’s a different story.
Canisius, which has yet to make an appearance at the NCAA tournament, let alone win an AHA title, is optimistic of making this season the first.
“I think we can definitely finish at the top of our league,” said Conacher. “We have enough depth on our team this year and if we keep producing and play strong defense, we can get to that championship at the end of the year and make a statement. We can show people that Atlantic hockey is the real deal and it’s growing.”