By Len Bardsley
The Times of Trenton
VICTORIA, B.C. – Chris Corrinet ignored the pleas for as long as he could.
Every couple of weeks his former roommate, Nathan Forster, would call Corrinet and ask him if he was interested in coming to Victoria, British Columbia to play some hockey for the Salmon Kings.
Forster, who shared an apartment with Corrinet while the two played for the Portland Pirates in the American Hockey League was persistent.
Each time Corrinet would say no thanks.
Corrinet thought he had put hockey behind him after being released by the Trenton Titans during training camp. He was trying to move forward with his life away from the rink by getting into law school.
The Princeton University graduate wanted to add to his degree in economics, applying at schools such as Georgetown, Boston College and Northwestern.
Forster finally convinced Corrinet to give the Salmon Kings a try. Victoria was desperate for help, there would be some interesting trips and the scenery around Victoria is spectacular.
Corrinet finally was sold.
It did not seem to matter that the Salmon Kings were in the midst of a record-setting winless streak. They went into the All-Star break on an 0-15-1 slide, tying the mark of the Huntington Blizzard during the 1995-96 season and the Roanoke Valley Rampage during the 1992-93 season, breaking the record on Saturday with a 2-1 shootout loss at Las Vegas.
Still, the chance to play hockey with friends was enough to pull Corrinet across the continent to lace them up once again.
The 6-3 forward decided to join Forster and made an immediate impact for the Salmon Kings, scoring a shorthand goal in his first game on Jan. 19.
“I flew out Wednesday (Jan. 19), got about an hour of sleep, but the coach put me in and I scored,” said Corrinet. “The week has been a struggle to get back into shape.”
Corrinet had not played hockey since skating in a Princeton University alumni game on Nov. 20.
Though he did have an eight-game stint with the Washington Capitals during the 2001-02 season, it has been a while since Corrinet has played at full speed. Corrinet is the third Salmon Kings player with NHL experience, joining Dale Purinton (Rangers) and his new roommate in Victoria, Mark Smith (San Jose).
In his five-year pro career, Corrinet has played in 130 AHL games, scoring 21 goals and adding 52 assists.
Still, it was a little bit of an adjustment when he was forced to try to contain Aces forward Scott Gomez during his first full weekend in the ECHL.
“I got here and played four games in 4 1/2 days,” said Corrinet. “I was matched up against Gomez all weekend and he tore us apart.”
The Aces swept the three-game series with Gomez, usually the Devils’ All-Star center, collecting six assists.
Corrinet has no regrets.
“This is good,” he said. “It is a chance to work myself back into playing form.”
Corrinet decided to go to Victoria because he will not find out if he got into law school for several months and he does not want to continue playing professionally if he is accepted into a law program.
“I was in limbo,” he said. “Do I take a job or wait out for schools? He (Forster) called me and said our team (is struggling). You will play 30 minutes a night. It is a nice area and the travel schedule is pretty good.”
The Salmon Kings end the season with a 12-game road trip which includes two stops in Florida to face the Everblades, a game against Pensacola, then another game in Las Vegas before wrapping up the season in San Diego.
“I guess it is nuts,” said Corrinet of the schedule. “But you do it all by plane, you are not stuck on a bus, and you go some decent places.”
It is not quite Jeff Thomason leaving a construction site to join the Eagles at the Super Bowl, but it is probably one last chance for Corrinet to play professional hockey before he starts to put his Princeton degree to work.
“I was just waiting for this to work out,” Corrinet said. “I was kind of looking for something to do the last three months. He (Forster) has been calling me all year. He finally called me three weeks ago and I felt it was a good time.”