The Canisius College all-time leading scorer, Cory Conacher '11 became the second Golden Griffin to sign a contract with a National Hockey League team on Thursday, inking a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"It's an awesome feeling," Conacher said. "Every kid dreams of playing in the NHL and signing with the Lightning is the first step of reaching my dream. A lot of credit goes to all of my coaches during the years from Dave Smith at Canisius to Wes Wiseman with the Burlington Cougars and Jon Cooper at Norfolk. It is a great honor to sign a contract but that is only half of the dream and I'm looking forward to earning a spot on the roster."
In his four-year standout career with the Griffs, Conacher set or matched 12 career, single-season and single-game records. The 2009-10 Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year owns the program's standards of 147 points, 62 goals and 12 game-winning tallies. He also set the school's records with 53 points and 33 assists during his junior campaign, while breaking the goals mark with 23 in his senior year.
"I learned so much by going to Canisius," Conacher said. "I played with a great group of players and Coach Smith was a great help. I think the key for me was being able to play right away as a freshman and getting a lot of key minutes. It helped me grow and I was able to gain a lot of confidence from the start.
"I hope that more eyes will be on Canisius College now and see just how good of a hockey program it has. I think this gives the program a bigger name in the hockey world and I think that I will be just one of many from Canisius to take this path."
After graduating from Canisius in 2011, Conacher has spent the year with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL, the top affiliate of the Lightning. In 57 games during his first professional season, Conacher has totaled 64 points, 30 goals and 34 assists. He currently ranks third in the league in points (first among rookies) and second in goals.
"Every one at Canisius is very proud of Cory," said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. "His passion to play the game coupled with his skill, have carried him this far and I'm excited to continue to watch his hockey journey. Cory joined our program as a true freshman and graduated as our all-time leading scorer and during his time, I saw a lot of growth in Cory as a hockey player and as a person. Cory means a lot to our program and to our school."
Conacher joins former teammate Carl Hudson as the first two Griffs to sign NHL contracts. Hudson inked with the Florida Panthers in the summer of 2010 but did not appear in any games due to an injury.