© Bakersfield Condors
Josh Currie, left, is playing in the American Hockey League with the Bakersfield Condors.
Josh Currie has taken the next step in his professional hockey career.
The 23-year-old Charlottetown native has played 10 games in the American Hockey League (AHL) after signing a 25-game professional tryout contract with Bakersfield Condors.
"It's one step away from the NHL, so it's great," Currie said. "It's a very professional league, the hockey is tremendous and you get treated like a real pro."
But it comes with increased responsibilities, as he's playing against guys who are faster, stronger and smarter than in leagues he previous played in.
"Everyone is in the right place," Currie said. "If you get caught out of position, teams can burn you in this league, so you definitely have to be aware at all times."
Currie is breaking into the AHL as a fourth-line centre, who is responsible defensively, good in the faceoff circle and can kill penalties. In 2011-12 as a P.E.I. Rocket forward, Currie was moved to the middle and given the responsibility of shutting down the opposition's top players.
"I was very fortunate and lucky to have a coach in Gordie Dwyer who gave me that opportunity," Currie said. "It gave me the chance to learn the defensive side of the game and how to shut down these players."
Currie's transition to the AHL was made a bit easier, given the community where the team plays.
Currie played for Bakersfield last season when it was an ECHL team. Bakersfield was promoted to the AHL during the off-season and is the Edmonton Oilers affiliate. Currie attended the Condors training camp earlier this year and knew many of the players when he was called up.
"Everyone has been very accommodating and welcoming, so that's made the transition a lot easier," he said. "I couldn't have asked for a better spot to get called up to."
Currie, who has three goals and an assist in 10 games with the Condors, is willing to do whatever it takes to stay in the AHL after starting his third professional season in the ECHL earlier this year.
There were times during the past two seasons, Currie wondered if he would get his chance at the next level. He said it is a very competitive business and he had to remain positive and work hard.
"I owe a lot of credit to (the ECHL). It helped me develop and become a better pro hockey player," Currie said. "It's been long journey, but it's a great journey."
Currie's new coach is Gerry Fleming. Yes, the former UPEI Panthers and Charlottetown senior Islanders forward.
He said Currie has made a relatively smooth transition to the AHL.
"He's a smart player, has a good understanding of the game, plays the right way and he's got more offence than we initially anticipated," Fleming said. "He's got a nice touch around the net."
Currie is not the first Islander Fleming has coached, but he said there is a characteristic that stands out amongst them.
"Island players are a unique cross between toughness, grit and skill," he said. "I've always had good experiences with guys that grew up playing on the Island. . . They play the right way."
Hometown - Charlottetown.
Age - 23.
Size, position - Five-foot-11, 187-pound centre.
The latest - Currie made his American Hockey League debut Nov. 18 with the Bakersfield Condors after starting the season with the ECHL's Norfolk Admirals.
Did you know - Google says Charlottetown is 5,749 kilometres from Bakersfield, Calif., and it would take 53 hours of driving to get from one city to the other.
Condors head coach Gerry Fleming said - "He has a nose to get into those high-traffic areas, he battles for loose pucks and has been good on draws."
Season League GP G A Pts
2015-16 AHL 10 3 1 4
2015-16 ECHL 13 6 6 12
2014-15 ECHL 71 14 28 42
2013-14 ECHL 70 15 16 31
2012-13 QMJHL 68 49 55 104