Having grown up on a farm near Okotoks, Connor Poffenroth knows the meaning of hard work.
The 18-year-old used to care for approximately 150 cattle alongside his dad, with the pair farming canola and barley as well.
While those memories will last forever, that aspect of his life has gone by the wayside over the last few years since his father Wade tragically passed away.
“He got me into hockey and always supported me. He was the guy after the games, that if I’d played bad, would let me know,” says Poffenroth, a forward and one of the inaugural Blackfalds Bulldogs signees.
“I’m a lot like him. I for sure looked up to him and he was a big part of my life. Obviously your parents, my mother Lorna included, had to support me the whole way to get me where I am.”
A forward, Poffenroth hopes to bring an attitude of perseverance and determination to the Bulldogs, and inject his own brand of leadership into the locker room.
“It’ll be pretty cool to have all those teammates that’ve worn a ‘C’ or ‘A.’ The team has said they’re not just trying to bring in good hockey players, but also good people,” he points out. “Only so many guys can wear a letter, but everyone can be a leader. I think everyone’s going to be very mature and the overall leadership will be at a high level. We won’t have any followers; everyone will be a pilot.”
The graduating Foothills Composite student wore an ‘A’ last season for the U18AAA Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Elite Hockey League, albeit for just five games.
It was a successful start to the COVID-shortened season, Poffenroth putting up four goals and two assists, with zero penalty minutes in that short span, leading his Oilers to one win, one loss and three ties.
The year prior, with the U18AAA Airdrie Bisons, he notched eight goals and seven helpers in 27 games.
In U16AAA play during the 2018-19 season, Poffenroth scored 25 times and added 22 assists for 47 points in 33 games.
“I wouldn’t say there’s one player I completely model myself by, but I really like watching Auston Matthews score goals, Crosby’s leadership, and the skating of guys like MacKinnon and McDavid. Those are the guys I take pieces from,” he says.
“I can play a different style depending on what the team needs. If we need some energy, I can throw my body around, or I can score from distance and get to the greasy areas. That adaptability is something I pride myself on.”
The versatile winger/centre, who adds that he loves to fish, isn’t looking past what the opportunity means to join the Bulldogs.
“It’s pretty rare to be given this type of opportunity with a brand new franchise, and it’s not very often you get the chance to be a part of a brand new everything pretty much. We get to help out here with something special and build it from the ground up,” says Poffenroth, who admits fans may find him shy to begin with, but that he’s only one good country song away from singing.
“I guess I’m a little bit nervous, but it’s more so excitement. I’ve always been able to go from one level to the next and produce, so I’m very excited to play at a high level in the AJHL.”