If you find yourself fighting boredom during Week 3 of Minnesota’s Stay at Home order, know that you’re not alone.
Upon returning from Minnesota to his hometown of Irma, Alberta, former Minnesota Duluth Bulldog and current Minnesota Wild defenseman Carson Soucy had to quarantine in his home for 14 days. His only escape was to shovel the snow that fell on what was supposed to be a summer rental.
Soucy, who played four seasons at UMD from 2013-17, originally stuck around the Twin Cities after the NHL suspended the 2019-20 season to continue rehabbing an upper body injury. He decided to return to Canada after the Wild training facilities were shut down and before the borders were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A senior in 2016-17 on the first of three consecutive Bulldogs teams to play for a national championship, Soucy recorded an episode of the News Tribune’s Bulldog Insider Podcast last week.
Hosted by News Tribune college hockey reporter Matt Wellens and My9 Sports commentator Zach Schneider, and produced by the News Tribune’s Samantha Erkkila, the Bulldog Insider Podcast is wrapping up Season 2 by phone with a couple UMD alumni now playing for the Wild in the NHL.
Below are excerpts from this week’s episode with Soucy, now available along with the rest of Season 1 and 2 at duluthnewstribune.com, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
What has life been like for you since the NHL season shut down?
“It’s been pretty similar to most. We stayed for almost two weeks in Minnesota when the season got put on pause. Eventually, we heard borders might be closing down. We figured we better get back and get our quarantine here just in case they do and we’re not allowed back in the long run. It’s just been boring for the most part. Everyone is going through it, not being able to see much friends or family. We’re hanging out, hopefully doing our part to make this go by faster.”
You were out of the lineup with an upper body injury when the season got shut down. How is your recovery coming along and how did the stoppage impact that?
“The recovery is good. It’s been weird, for sure. I haven’t skated in probably the longest time in I don’t know how many years, now with this injury leading into this little pause. The recovery is going well. I would definitely be able to play now, so now I just want the season to come back so I can get those games in you missed and play meaningful games. I just don’t know how long it’s going to be until we can play again.”
If you do go back and maybe they don’t allow fans in, but they allow you guys to play some games, have you thought about playing the end of the regular season or playing the Stanley Cup playoff games in front of no fans?
“We’ve been asked that a few times, but it’s hard to imagine, especially the playoffs. I remember playing with the Wild against Winnipeg for that series and just how much escalation there is with the fans and how loud they are for the playoffs. It would be hard and you’d miss out on that atmosphere. That’s such a big part of the playoffs, home-ice advantage and all that. You’d miss out on that, which would really be a bummer.”
What kind of emotional roller coaster has this been like for you as a hockey player to have the breakout season and then — injuries happen — for a pandemic to come along?
“It’s something you don’t expect, but we’re all going through it. I can’t say, ‘Oh, I was having a good season,’ or whatever. It sucks. It sucks for the fans, too. Everyone wants to watch hockey at this time. We want to be playing it, too. We’d just be finishing (the regular season) and hopefully going into the playoffs almost this week. I think everyone is going a little crazy not being able to watch their sports, especially up here with the snow. That’s what people are used to doing in the evenings. You come home and watch playoff hockey until June. It’s definitely a little different.”
What’s it like for a former Bulldog playing with the Minnesota Wild? Do you find yourself almost being treated as a guy from the State of Hockey like an Alex Stalock?
“Yeah, some people definitely thought I was from Minnesota because I played at Duluth. Even a few guys on the team this year thought I was from Minnesota before they realized I was from Canada. It’s nice with all the friends. I still see guys like (Nick) McCormack and (Sammy) Spurrell and (Adam) Krause. It’s nice to be around there. If this all didn’t get canceled, I was hopefully going to be at the (NCHC) Frozen Faceoff and be able to watch it. It’s always cool to be that close to a place that you went to school.”