It hasn’t been much of an off-season for Prince Albert Raiders winger Cole Fonstad.
The Estevan product has been all over the world since the Raiders’ season ended at the beginning of April.
“I’ve been gone so much,” said Fonstad, who returned to Saskatchewan late last week. “I think I’ve been living out of a suitcase since I left P.A. this year.”
Shortly after the season ended, Fonstad was named to Team Canada for the 2018 IIHF World U18 Hockey Championship in Russia. Then, it was off to Buffalo for the NHL Draft Combine. From there, he made a brief cameo back home to watch the NHL Draft with his family.
On that Saturday morning in June, Fonstad was selected in the fifth round of the NHL Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. In less than a week, one of the newest Canadiens travelled to Brossard, QC to take part in his new team’s summer development camp.
“It was a big relief to get drafted and have other things to focus on now,” Fonstad said of the draft experience. “It was a big focus all year. Even when you try to not focus on it, you’re still going to just because it’s a goal. To have it happen, it’s good to get it out of the way and now you can work on your goals.”
While knowing he’d be suiting up in practice gear for les bleu, blanc, et rouge, it didn’t sink in until he landed in Quebec.
“I think it didn’t kick in until I got there, honestly. When you put on the gear and put on the jersey and how well you get treated, it’s pretty cool.”
Throughout the course of the season, Fonstad picked the brain of his teammates regarding what to expect from the development camps. Once he was drafted, he chatted again with fellow Estevan product and Calgary Flames camp invitee Brayden Pachal about what to expect.
Fonstad said his time with the Canadiens featured “a little bit of everything.” The players at camp were able to get out on the ice, have fun, and be creative.
“It was just lots of learning, just like every development camp, but at the same time, it’s stuff you want to do in the summer, the stuff they focus on. It’s a lot of skill stuff in the practices. We had a game every day too, which is nice to have a little scrimmage in the summer.”
Fonstad added that he and the Canadiens were on the same page for his development for the upcoming season.
“I think you can always get faster and stronger, and me not being the biggest guy, I think that’s something I really need to focus on,” noted Fonstad, who was listed at 5’10 and 162 lbs at the beginning of the 2017-18 season. “Getting faster and continuing to build strength and get a little bit heavier. That’s probably the biggest thing they want out of me and I know I want that out of myself, too.”
After the conclusion of camp, Fonstad stayed in La Belle Province for a couple of weeks to do some extra training. One part of the training included something integral to playing in Montreal – French lessons.
“Every Tuesday and Friday we had an hour French class in the morning. I can’t say I know French yet, but it’s coming.”
Fonstad is coming off a sensational sophomore season with the Raiders as he set new career highs in goals (21), assists (52), and points (73) while suiting up in all 72 games to finish second on the team in scoring. In the playoffs, he added four goals and an assist in the seven-game loss to the top-seeded Moose Jaw Warriors.
With the new season on the horizon, Fonstad is ready to get going again in P.A.
“Basically we have our whole team coming back. Obviously we’re going to miss lots of key guys. They’re going to be gone, but I think it’s time for other guys to take on bigger roles and really step up. I think we’re going to be ready to do that, so I’m really excited.”
Prince Albert Raiders season tickets for the 2018-19 campaign are available for purchase. Visit the Raider Office or call 306-764-5348 for more information.
The Raiders are holding their Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, August 21 at 7 p.m. in the Ches Leach Lounge. Fans must have a valid membership to attend. Memberships are $50 per season.
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