We are starting a new series, here on Drive 4 Five, on our Sound Tigers section. Each month, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Booster Club holds a Meet and Greet after a Sunday home game, where two players come and answer questions for the fans. This time, the Boosters ask questions to the players. Questions were asked by Sound Tiger fans in the Booster Club, as well as some of our readers.
This month’s guests: Ryan Bourque, and Seth Helgeson
The players have come from the locker room following the Sound Tigers’ 6-3 victory over the Wolf Pack.
Ryan Bourque Introduction: I was born in North Shore, MA, played youth hockey growing up, in Danvers, and I played for a minor hockey program there called Top Gun. Eventually, I went to High School, and Prep School at Cushing Academy, which is in Western Massachusetts, for about two years. From there, I went to Michigan, to play in the USHL for about two years. Then, I went to the QMJHL to play for Quebec City. Then, when I was about 19, I got drafted by the Rangers and played in Hartford for about five years. Then, I got traded to Hershey, played there for about a year and a half and then ultimately coming here.
Q: Ryan, we obviously know that your father is a Hockey Hall of Famer. What was it like growing up watching him play every night?
RB: It was cool; really cool. Very fortunate to have the opportunity that I did growing up for me and my brother. Not every day that you can kind of go into a NHL facility when you’re 8-10 years old. And being able to skate, and see how those guys practice and play and it’s a pretty cool experience.
Q: That cup year in 2001 was obviously special. What was it like watching dad win a Stanley Cup after 22 years?
RB: Yeah, it was really cool for him, as well as me, my mom and my brother. Obviously went out there with my dad for the season. My sister was in prep school then, back in Boston. It was an incredible year, kind of a whirlwind year. Everything had seemed to happen pretty fast. Obviously, the conclusion of it was pretty cool.
Q: Ryan, what was it like playing with Chris in the last two years in Hershey, and before in Hartford? And what were the family dynamics like?
RB: Yeah, it was really cool. Not every day that you get to play with someone you grew up with. Growing up, we never had the chance to play together, so it was really cool and I got to room with him, and his family. It’s really similar to how we were growing up. And it was great, because it was the first time we played together in Hartford.
Q: What is it like playing with two sets of brothers?
RB: It’s really similar. It does remind me a lot of playing with Chris. Both of those brothers, the Holmstrom’s, and Kellen and Connor when they’re here together. It’s a really cool experience when you can play with your brother, especially when you’re on the road and team building activities.
Q: Do you ever get nervous playing in front of your father?
RB: No, it actually makes me push myself. I like having them in the building. I love having the family support and he’s always taken a back seat for both me and my brother.
Seth Helgeson Introduction: I grew up in a small town, just 60 miles outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Played my youth career there, played high school for two years. Then I went to Sioux City to play for the Musketeers in the USHL for about two years, then spent four years with the Golden Gophers. And for the last four years, I was playing with Albany. And now I’m here in Bridgeport.
Q: Seth, you played at Minnesota. Did you ever play with Aaron Ness?
SH: Yeah, I did for about two years, and I also played against Brock, and Anders.
Q: Seth, now I’ve seen those summer leagues in Minnesota; how fun are those? And what is it like playing with other guys from these other leagues?
SH: Yeah that’s pretty good for all of the people in the metro area, and cool for us to play with each other.
Q: Was Minnesota-Duluth considered a rival back in College?
SH: Not really, it was more of North Dakota, but it has grown now to be a big rivalry with how good they have become.
Q: Who’s the jokester in the room?
SH: I don’t know. It’s really early.
Q: Who are you rooming with?
RB: My roommates here in Bridgeport are Seth, and Ross [Johnston]. And on the road its Connor Jones.
SH: On the road, I’m with Gio [Stephen Gionta].
Q: Favorite Movie?
RB: Wedding Crashers.
SH: The Town. And I also really like Ray Donovan right now as well.
Q: If you were to go out to dinner, where would you go?
SH: Anything, but recently I have had a thing for Vietnamese food.
Q: Seth, what made you start playing hockey?
SH: My next door neighbors. I had an older next door neighbor who loved hockey. And my brother played hockey too.
Q: Music Genres?
RB: Pretty much everything.
Q: What was the big difference between yesterday and today? [Sound Tigers lost to Laval the day before]
RB: I think every year it’s sort of a feeling out process here early in the season. I think one thing that we have done each night is bring the same work ethic and intensity. I think it’s also consistency through a longer period of time, either if it’s one period or an entire game. Today we were kind of able to play for all 60 minutes and a team effort for a whole game.
SH: Yeah, and penalty trouble wasn’t bad yesterday as well.
Q: Do you guys prefer to play with one referee or two? And was that a difference?
RB: I think Sunday games in general, they let a lot more go.
Q: Favorite team, or player growing up. And Ryan, not your dad.
RB: I’m a forward so I did not pay attention to the D growing up, but I loved watching Paul Kariya. Loved watching him. I remember my 10th birthday, that I had a cake with the Mighty Ducks on it, and he came after the game and took a picture with me and signed a stick with the entire team, whenever he was in Boston.
SH: When I was growing up in Minnesota, we did not have the Wild yet, so I cheered for the Gophers until the Wild came. And I loved watching Derek Boogaard out there.
Q: What’s the difference between Ken Gernander [because we used to like Gernander here in Bridgeport] to Coach Thompson and is it weird to see him no longer with Hartford for the first time in over 20 years?
RB: Yeah, I think Thommer is just more demanding. He forces guys to come to work hard, everyday. I think Gernander was a little bit more calm as a coach. And I think they have different personalities. And it is weird to no longer see him there. He’s been there for so long too. And it’s the way the business of hockey goes now. I think he had a great career there as a player, and a coach. He was a captain there, and has his number retired there too.
Q: Lastly, Seth, Explain the difference between Rick Kowalsky and Brent Thompson.
SH: There are a lot of differences. With Rick, he demanded a lot, but not as much as Thommer does. He was much more laid back, and he was like one of the boys. He was one of the veterans on the team who happened to be the head coach.
Special Thanks to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Booster Club for allowing us to get this interview. And we also thank the Booster members for asking questions along with us! And thanks to Ryan and Seth for providing us a great interview!