This past season was a year full of great accomplishments that Seattle Thunderbirds left winger Conner Roulette won’t soon forget.
Taking the Western Hockey League by storm, Roulette had quite the impressive rookie season when in 2019/2020, he finished third in team scoring with 19 goals and 39 points. His hard work didn’t go unnoticed as this Winnipeg product, a member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation, on April 4 was rewarded with Thunderbirds team rookie of the year honours.
“Conner had a stellar rookie campaign for the T-Birds,” Thunderbirds Assistant Coach Castan Sommer said. “He was able to represent Canada at the World U17 Hockey Challenge, registering 2 goals in 4 games for Canada Red. As an avid learner, his thirst to improve everyday helped him go from four points and a -2 in his first 14 WHL games to 35 points and a +15 over his final 40 games. Conner has a fantastic work ethic, skill set, and love for the game, and it showed this season. Sommer also went on to add,
“At just 16-years-old, Conner finished second on the team in points per game and led the team in plus/minus by 8. The Thunderbirds organization is proud of all that Conner accomplished this season.”
Roulette, who entered his rookie season with one game played under his belt, got off to a fast start and showed he belonged. On October 2, 2019, in Kamloops B.C., during the third game of the season, he scored his first WHL goal. Continuing to roll, Roulette, who is eligible for the 2021 NHL draft, scored a hattrick three days later during a 5-3 win against the Victoria Royals.
Another big highlight for this 5’11”, 165- pound speedster came on January 11, 2020, when during a 4-3 win against the Everett Silvertips, Roulette scored the teddy bear toss goal, in the annual Fred Meyer Teddy Bear Toss.
In March, Roulette experienced the ultimate honour as he was the proud recipient of the Manitoba Aboriginal Sports and Recreational Council Inc. Male Athlete of the Year. A big reason why he won was that he also excelled on the international stage. Internationally, this winger dominated for Manitoba at the 2019 Canada Winter Games where he scored eight points (4 goals, 4 assists) as they placed a disappointing fifth.
Arguably, Roulette’s signature game came at the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships, when playing in Whitehorse, he scored a hattrick in the gold medal game to lead his province to a gold medal win.
Currently, with the pandemic going on, Roulette is back in Winnipeg where he is in Grade 12, and when not in school working out and preparing for January 8, when the WHL is scheduled to begin its season.
“In the past few months, I’ve put on a lot more muscle and weight and I feel like I’m more confident,” Roulette said. “As a kid I had my idols. I was a really big fan of (Sidney) Crosby growing up—just how he is off the ice and on the ice like you see in those commercials and videos. That’s just him in front of the camera but obviously behind the camera he’s just a really good guy. A leader.”
These are definitely exciting times for Roulette and members of the Misipawistik Cree Nation as he looks to have another big year with Seattle, and eventually get selected in the 2021 NHL draft.