“It’s been a long time running,”
“It’s been a long time coming,”
“It’s well worth the wait”
Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip’s famous lyrics sum up Conor Shortall’s journey in the game of hockey almost perfectly.
Somethings are well worth the wait.
The St.John’s, Newfoundland product is confident and prepared to make the jump to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“Playing in the Q is a dream come true,” Shortall said.
“Growing up and playing hockey in Newfoundland, most of the top guys would love to get drafted and play in the Q.”
“It is a pretty special feeling to reach this level,” said the solid two-way puck moving defenceman.
Shortall like so many other players born on “The Rock” realized if he wanted to achieve his hockey dreams that would mean one thing, living home.
“I played Atom, Pee Wee, Bantam and first year major midget in Newfoundland and then last year I spent a season at South Kent in Connecticut which is a little different route than some guys take,” Shortall said.
“Being a kid from Newfoundland, you always know at some point you have to leave home to continue playing at the highest levels.”
One could only imagine what Debbie and Dave Shortall were thinking when their son left to pursue his hockey dream.
For seven years the Shortall’s watched their son hone his skills on the family’s outdoor rink.
Hockey dreams are shared, but like anything it takes dedication, hard work and sacrifice.
“To be honest, I think my parents found last year harder than I did.”
Seeing their sixteen year old son leave the country to follow his hockey dream had to be extremely difficult.
“It is tough, I miss my family and friends a lot, but it is what you have to do.”
“I have this hockey dream and unfortunately I can not stay in Newfoundland to pursue it,” stressed Shortall.
The Shortall family didn’t want to rush the process and wanted to keep all of their options open season ago.
“An opportunity came my way to go to South Kent which has at a great hockey program.”
“I always looked at that as a one year further development plan before making a final decision to play in the QMJHL or try the US College route,” admitted Shortall.
After exploring all of his options, Shortall and his family made a decision he hopes will change is life.
“I decided to sign with Drummondville mainly because they really believe in me.”
“They wanted me to be part of the rebuild and that’s exciting,” said the well spoken rearguard.
“Philippe Boucher and JS Perron liked the way I play and that means a lot.”
Shortall had an incredible Gatorade Challenge in 2019 which undoubtedly led to a lot of attention.
As the best on best tournament went on, Shortall’s value increased every time he stepped on the ice.
At that time Shortall was still on the fence which may have scared some teams away. The Voltigeurs snatched the savvy puck mover up in the 5th round 78th overall.
There’s no doubt Boucher and the Volts scouting staff hit a homerun when they drafted the proud Newfoundlander.
Shortall’s journey in the game isn’t as linear as one would think, which makes his story even more compelling.
“I think most guys would say it is never really an easy road,” said Shortall of his journey in the game.
“There’s been some ups and downs, but mostly it’s been good.”
“I think my biggest disappointment or adversity was in first year Pee Wee.”
“I didn’t make the AAA team, but was named an alternate player.”
“I was so devastated as it was the first time in my life I never made a team.”
“Looking back it was a great year as I played a ton of hockey in A and practiced with both teams,” explained Shortall.
The knock on Shortall throughout his entire career has been his size.
The mature seventeen year old has never been phased by that commentary.
“With regards to my size and what some critics say, I try to focus on what I can control,” Shortall said.
“I would love to be 6 feet, but I am not.”
“Hopefully I will grow a little more,” Shortall said with a smile.
The Volts rookie defender has put in the work on and off the ice to make the jump to the Q.
“I have focused alot of my physical strength and weight training,” Shortall said.
“I like to play a physical game and I think that aspect of my has helped me.
Forget about the tape measure when Conor Shortall laces them up he always plays big and that’s what matters most.
So what NHLer does Shortall model his game after and what are his expectations this year in the Q?
“I really like how Torey Krug plays the game.”
“He’s a smaller guy in the NHL and I try to model my game after him as he is a very smart offensively as well as defensively.”
“He also has a lot of grit, which I try incorporate into my game,” Shortall said.
“I have very high expectations for myself this season.”
“Part of my reason for waiting a extra year to enter the league was I want to try and make an impact right from the start.”
“I realize as a rookie I will have to adjust, but I always have high expectations of myself.”
“The change is huge really,” said Shortall when asked how big of a jump the Q is from the hockey he played a season ago.
“Last year I played in a U16 level so it was all players my own age and I was probably one of the bigger guys.”
“This year is very different, I’m playing against bigger, stronger and older guys, but I think I am ready,” Shortall said confidently.
The opportunity to play in the QMJHL and the sacrifices his parents have made to get him to this point isn’t lost on him.
“My parents are everything to me.”
“They are my biggest supporters and will do anything for me to be happy and succeed.”
“My parents have made so many sacrifices for me to get to this point, for all the work they missed, all the money spent, all the family functions they have missed to get me to the rink, the list can go on forever,” said Shortall.
“They have always stuck by my side no matter what, they always wanted the best for me.”
“From a young age they always believed in me and were always willing to help me with my goals no matter what they were.”
“There is no way I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for my parents,” said a reflective Shortall.
“It really means a lot to see how much they have done and continue to do for me, words can’t express how grateful I am to call them my parents.”
“From an athletic side I have always looked up to my mom.”
“She was a high level athlete who played all kinds of sports in school and university.”
“She is a Physical Education teacher so sports was always a part of my life,” said Shortall proudly.
How has Shortall adapted to his new surroundings and his new home?
“I am not going to lie, I found the fourteen day quarantine really tough,” Shortall said.
“Right after that we jumped into camp and then into pre-season games and then school started so it has been busy.”
“I think I am adjusting well considering the big changes in my life,” admitted Shortall.
“The practices are definitely harder and more competitive which is great and the coaches are really helping with different things on the ice.”
“Doing my schooling online is different, but I’m very lucky, I have a great billet family.”
“They have been really nice to me and are making feel at home which really helps.”
From his earliest days playing for Avalon Celtics, and the Newfoundland Novice Selects and every stop since then, Conor Shortall’s unwavering passion and love for the game has been on full display.
Through it all, Shortall has never forgotten the value of hard work, being patient and trusting the process.
It’s hard for Shortall to come up all the names of the people and coaches that have positively impacted his career.
“In terms of greatest coaches and mentors that is really tough as there have been so many great people that helped me along the way.”
“Most recently, Brad Yetman coached me in my rookie season of Major Midget with the East Coast Blizzard in Newfoundland.”
“He believed in me right away and drafted me 1st overall in that league and I was fortunate enough to get Rookie of the Year that year as well because Brad helped me a lot.”
“Brad played a big role in my exposure that year and helping me get drafted by Drummondville.”
“Another really great coach I had growing up is Andrew Pearcy.”
“When I was younger he did many skills sessions and coached some of our travel teams, but more recently he’s been helping me a lot with skills on ice.”
“Andrew is always willing to help and do anything he can to further players development.”
“It’s been a long time running,”
“It’s been a long time coming,”
The wait is over, it’s Conor Shortall’s time to shine and trust me the Drummondville Voltigeurs and their loyal fans will know very soon it’s been well worth the wait.