The defending ECHL Kelly Cup champion Colorado Eagles are a highly skilled team who are also extremely difficult to play against due to their toughness.
For first-year Eagle, Joey Ratelle, this was the perfect scenario to kick off his professional hockey career.
“I think knowing that I was a player that had the same DNA as the team, it was big for me,” Ratelle said recently. “Playing hard and being able to make some plays offensively.”
After spending five years in the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, and splitting the final season between the Voltigeurs and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Ratelle made the jump to the begin his career as a professional hockey player with the Colorado Eagles.
“I got a call from my agent saying that I had a team that was interested in me, so I got a call from [Eagles head coach] Aaron Schneekloth, and I got a contract with the team,” Ratelle said.
The Eagles landed a young, scrappy forward who can put up points. Ratelle wound up with a team primed and ready to defend a league championship — one that currently boasts a league-high 66 points.
Making a move to a different team can never be easy, and this is especially true for someone who had spent the entirety of his life playing hockey in Canada.
“I didn’t know much actually [about Colorado],” Ratelle said. “All I heard about Colorado was the mountains, and stuff like that. I knew it was a great place for skiing, but I didn’t know much about [Loveland]”.
As usual, getting used to a brand-new league takes time. However, Ratelle has been able to carry his game from the QMJHL to create depth for the Eagles.
“Honestly, it is way quicker than in juniors,” Ratelle said of the difference he’s noticed in game play. “All of the plays are quicker; all of the guys are bigger, too. So it was an adaption, but I think that it was a little bit hard at the beginning, but I adapted well and I am doing pretty good.”
With 40 games played, Ratelle is in the middle of the pack for the Eagles with 23 points. Along with being to contribute offensively for the Eagles, Ratelle provides some grit for the team, accumulating 121 penalty minutes on the season.
As the Eagles continue towards the conclusion of their final season in the ECHL, the addition of Ratalle speaks volumes to the Eagles overall depth. With plenty of scoring touch, as well as a tough attitude that breaks down opponents, the Eagles are primed to be another top contender for the Kelly Cup in the playoffs.
Featured Image Credit: Colorado Eagles