Volume 93, Issue 98

Tuesday, April 4, 2000


Q&A with Western's C.J.

MLB 2000 - the National League preview

Q&A with Western's C.J.

©Chad Thompson/Gazette

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

A berth in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union championships capped off a stellar season and a five year career for Western Mustang goalie C.J. Denomme.

Not only did the netminder lead this year's Mustangs to the Ontario University Athletics Far West title, but his play in the CIAU finals also landed him a spot on the tournament's all-star team.

Denomme, like many young Canadians, began his hockey career soon after taking his first steps. "I guess I was five years old when I first started playing. I wanted to be a goalie right from the start, I was weird in that sense. I was fascinated with the equipment."

Denomme played single A for the majority of his youth and in 1988 made the jump to Junior D, playing for Belmont. The following season he made the jump to Junior B and played for Stratford.

"After my year in Stratford I was drafted to the [Ontario Hockey League] by the Kitchener Rangers. It was good there but I think the most fun I had was when I was traded to Ottawa [67s]."

Over the years, Denomme has played with some great players and said he learned a lot playing at the various levels coming up through the ranks. "I was able to play with [Buffalo Sabres] Mike Peca and [Colorado Avalanche] Sean Donovan when I was in Ottawa. Before that in Stratford, I played with Chris Pronger."

It was after his Ottawa season in 1993-1994 when one of Denomme's life long dreams came true – he was drafted to the National Hockey League by the Detroit Red Wings in the eighth round. However, things with the NHL did not work as well as Denomme would have like them to.

"When you sign with an OHL team they make you an offer, like paying for four years of university education. When you sign a professional contract, a deal like that becomes void," Denomme explained about turning down the Red Wings. "[Detroit] didn't offer me that much so I made my decision based on that."

It was in 1996 that Denomme's path lead him to Western under then head coach, Barry Martinelli. "My first year here was a turnover year, Western was in the middle of a rebuilding process," he said. "As for my play, I was a little inconsistent and my conditioning was off, but I came back strong in my second year."

Since then, under the guidance of new head coach Clarke Singer, Denomme and the Mustangs have fought their way to national excellence – something Denomme said he will never forget. "Playing in front of 11,000 Saskatchewan fans – that was really something special. It ranks up there with when I originally got drafted."

Despite competing at both provincial and national levels, Denomme said he will miss watching the guys come up through the program and the bonds made both on and off the ice.

"It's exciting to watch guys develop throughout the years. Guys like Jeff Petrie – he and I came to Western at the same time. Back then he was a gangly, skinny kid. Now he's one of the premiere players at the university level."

As for the future, Denomme has a four year honours sociology degree and teaching certificate in hand and is looking foward to beginning a teaching career in the London area. He said the lessons he's learned throughout his years in the game will transfer nicely into the real world.

"I look at hockey as a microcosm of life – sometimes the puck is as big as a beach ball and easy to deal with, whereas other times it's as small as a pea. The passion I take from the game of hockey will be the passion I put towards my goals in life."

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