By Scott Linesburgh
The Stockton Record
STOCKTON, Calif. – Stephane Goulet embarked on a new adventure more than a month ago, and so far he’s having a good time.
Goulet is visiting the United States for the first time, learning the English language and doing most of his communicating with his hockey stick.
Goulet, who was sent to Stockton by its NHL affiliate, the Edmonton Oilers, scored a goal in his first game and has become one of the most reliable scorers on the Thunder, which begins a nine-game homestand by playing host to the Utah Grizzlies at 4 p.m.Sunday at Stockton Arena.
Goulet, 20, just began his professional career, but he also faced the additional challenge of dealing with a language barrier. He is French Canadian and grew up speaking French in Quebec City. Neither of his parents spoke English, and he didn’t begin to study the language until he was in high school.
He said he’s actually learned more about the language at the rink than he did in school.
“I was getting the basic stuff in school, but I mostly learned from communicating with the other players and the coaches,” Goulet said. “Everyone has been very helpful. The first few days (in the United States) were a little awkward, but not too bad. And now I can have conversations with guys without too much of a problem.”
Goulet has had a pretty easy time adjusting to living in Stockton because he’s familiar with his new roommates. He’s currently staying in a rented house with fellow Edmonton prospects Tyler Spurgeon, Troy Bodie, Devan Dubnyk and Liam Reddox.
“It was great for me when I found out that I was rooming with those guys,” Goulet said. “I know some of them for three years. So it did make it more comfortable.”
Bodie said he’s welcome to stay as long as he likes.
“Stephane is a great guy, and we’re glad we were able to make him comfortable,” Bodie said. “He’s dealt with the language barrier really well, and he’s becoming more confident when dealing with people.”
The Oilers showed confidence in Goulet when they selected him in the seventh round of the 2004 NHL Draft. He showed his scoring prowess last season with the Moncton (New Brunswick) Wildcats, a Canadian Junior team. Goulet had 51 goals and 93 points for Moncton.
“This is a guy who can give you an offensive boost anytime he is on the ice,” Thunder coach Chris Cichocki said. “He is always a threat to score when he has the puck, he creates things for you. Not all players can do that.”
Goulet created excitement in his first game at Stockton Arena when he scored against the Long Beach Ice Dogs in front of almost 7,000 fans. The Thunder won 3-2, and is undefeated in its first three home games.
“It was exciting to score in the first game here, and it was such a great crowd,” Goulet said. “It was nice to come in and help out.”
He had seven points in his first eight games for the Thunder, and so far, it’s been a successful adventure for Goulet on and off the ice.
“This has been an excellent experience, and the team has done well,” Goulet said. “That’s the main thing. We’ve started off strong, and we need to keep this going.”