The hockey season can be a grind. Training camps start in mid-September, the regular season runs through the middle of April, and if your team is lucky enough to experience the playoffs, you could be playing up through June.
Because so much happens over the course of the marathon, it’s difficult for even the most passionate supporter or studious player to recall everything that happened during a season.
How did they score on the power play in game 21? What was the rush that followed the hit post on a breakaway back in the first home game of the year? How many saves did the goalie make in Game 45? It all becomes a blur with so much going on over such an extended period.
It takes something truly remarkable to stand out when the season is all said and done.
And even though he was the busiest member of the team this season, there’s no chance Christian Thomas will be forgetting the year he had in 2017-18.
Thomas signed on with the Penguins in mid-September, moving him only a short trip north from Hershey to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Little did he know that he would soon become a world traveler after being named to Canada’s men’s national team in December.
His international tour started with Canada’s participation in the Karjala Cup. He played in Switzerland and Finland during the event, which Hockey Canada used as sort of an evaluation tryout for future tournaments. Despite not logging big minutes, Thomas impressed Canadian coaches which earned him the invite to play for his country once again in the historic Spengler Cup Tournament over the December holiday period.
Not to be forgotten is that in between those events, Thomas did pretty well while lacing up for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Thomas ultimately recorded 18 goals for the Penguins, 15 of which came at five-on-five. Only Daniel Sprong scored more goals for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while the team was skating at five-on-five (19).
Then came the big one: The Winter Olympic Games. Thomas was named to Canada’s men’s hockey team, went to South Korea, and came back with a bronze medal, capturing his country its fourth medal in the men’s event in the last five Olympics.
“This will probably be one of the most memorable years of my life,” Thomas said. “I haven’t won a championship in a long time, so winning the Spengler Cup was cool. Then winning bronze at the Olympics is something that I’ll never forget. Never.”
All the travel and important games made a long season even longer for the 25-year-old forward. Although that lengthy campaign yielded a lot of success, he’s ready for a break.
“There was a lot going on,” Thomas said with an affirming smile. “I’ll definitely take a couple weeks off. I’ll head home, unwind, but then get right back into the workouts.”
He’s getting some much deserved time off, and maybe that will give him some time to reflect on everything he was able to accomplish. Not only should he feel his pride throughout this summer, but 20, 30, even 50 years down the line when his playing career is long over, Thomas will always have the fond memories of an unforgettable 2017-18 season.
“I got to win a Spengler Cup. I got to win a bronze medal at the Olympics. I can always say that.”