© Gwinnett Gladiators
Josh Currie completed his first professional hockey season in the ECHL, scoring 15 goals and setting up 16 more in 70 games.
One number will help motivate Josh Currie to get better this off-season.
The 21-year-old Charlottetown native finished his first professional season with the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators with a minus-21 rating in 70 games.
“That’s by far the one I don’t like to look at the most,” said Currie, who has always been known for being responsible defensively. “That just gives me more fire and motivation to come back bigger and stronger.”
The Gladiators (29-38-3-2) finished last in the five-team South Division of the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs. The Georgia-based squad got off to a slow start and could not recover.
Currie had 15 goals and 16 assists during his first pro campaign, finishing 29th in the league in rookie scoring. He played top-six minutes and saw time on the power play.
“It wasn’t the production, the numbers, I wanted to put up, but there’s always an adjustment moving away from home and playing at the pro level,” said the former P.E.I. Rocket captain.
He said it was a learning experience, playing against bigger, stronger and faster athletes.
“I had a great group of older guys and they made the adjustment easier for me.”
The list included former Rocket Joey Haddad, who set up Currie’s first professional goal on Oct. 30, and Dirk Southern. Former Rocket David Laliberte played two games with the Gladiators before going to Europe.
“He was a real pro and he was great to me,” Currie said.
Former UPEI Panthers Mark Guggenberger was one of the Gladiators’ goalies.
Gwinnett coach Rick Emmett said Currie was a good addition to the club.
“When you look at his stats, when you look at his plus/minus, it’s not really an indication of what he brings to our team,” he said. “He’s a character guy and a well-liked kid and certainly can be dynamic at times offensively as well.”
He called Currie a smart player, who was used in all situations, and got better as the season progressed, particularly in the details of the defensive game.
“He has a good hockey IQ, so it has allowed us to kind of evolve with him as far as expand his role,” Emmett said. “We like him a lot. We think highly of the kid.”
Players have until Christmas the year after graduating from junior hockey to test professional hockey without losing their scholarship money.
Currie said leaving Gwinnett was never an option.
“I knew that I wanted to play hockey,” he said without hesitation. “I know it’s a long road, but that never crossed my mind once.”
Currie was on a one-year contract in the ECHL. He said he would be getting back in the gym in May and let his agent see what opportunities arise through the off-season.