Former Brainerd Warrior Tim Conboy has experienced ups and downs in his hockey career.
From playing NHL exhibition games to dealing with off-ice issues, Conboy has become a defensive force in the American Hockey League and continues to work toward a full-time shot in the NHL.
Q: You played one year at Brainerd High School as a senior after transferring from Rosemount. Was it a connection to Ty Eigner that brought you here?
A: He was my varsity coach at Rosemount High School. After my junior year, I was speaking to my father how serious I was about playing hockey into college and beyond that. I spoke to Ty about it. Ty was one of the guys who always supported me and always told me I could play at the next level.
Tim Conboy is a former Brainerd Warrior.
When I heard he got the job coaching at Brainerd, I was already looking to transfer schools or play juniors a year early. I have so much respect for Ty. I already played for him two-plus years and thought it was a great move to go up there and play for him.
Q: Looking back, what memories do you have of your season in Brainerd?
A: It was awesome. The three years I spent at Rosemount, unfortunately, we didn't have successful teams. In my junior season, I think we won only one regular-season game, which was pretty frustrating. In Brainerd we had a winning team and a great group of guys. I couldn't ask for a better situation.
Q: You spent two years in the United States Hockey League, were drafted by the San Jose Sharks in 2002, then spent two years at St. Cloud State. How was St. Cloud?
A: Ever since I was a little kid, I always watched the Gopher-St. Cloud games. I always wanted to do that. Being part of that was unbelievable.
Former Brainerd Warrior Tim Conboy now plays for the Albany River Rats in the AHL.
Albany River Rats
Q: You spent a few years in the Sharks' organization with Cleveland and have moved to the Carolina organization. What's the AHL like?
A: Basically the Sharks (and other teams) mirror what they do in the NHL in the AHL. If you get a chance to get called up, you know what to do when you get up there. When I changed franchises, I had a new coach, had to learn a new forecheck and a new system. It's easy to learn, but each team has a different way of doing it.
Q: What's your current role on your team?
A: In high school and juniors, I was more of an offensive defenseman. The further I'm going to pro hockey, I've become a "stay-at-home" defenseman, a defenseman who will stick up for his teammates and is very physical. If someone gets out of line, I'll step in there.
Q: Would you consider yourself an enforcer?
A: If you had asked me that three or four years ago, I probably would have said yes. But, at this level, I would say no. I just stick up for my teammates when need be.
Q: Do you still chat up your opponents during play to get under their skin like you did in college and juniors?
A: Oh yeah. There's a lot of talking going on. You want to get under the other guy's skin, get into their head and get them off their game. It doesn't work on everybody, but it works on a lot of guys by just saying smart-aleck remarks they don't like to hear.
Q: What do you think you'll need to do to make the leap to the NHL?
A: I need to do everything quicker, faster and harder. I've gotten to play some exhibition games with San Jose and Carolina. When you're at that level, you don't have much time with the puck. My biggest thing is when I get out there I need to know what I'm going to do with the puck before I even get it.
Q: You've battled your demons with drinking, drugs and some on-ice incidents a few years ago. Any lessons learned?
A: I've made a few mistakes. I'll be lying to you if I said I didn't learn from them. I'm getting older. And, now I'm engaged to a great woman who helps keep me on the right track and helps me do what I need to do in order to keep playing hockey.
Q: To those who play hockey in central Minnesota, is there anything you want to say to them?
A: Keep a positive attitude and keep working as hard as you can because you never know who might be watching.
TREVOR WILLIAMS, sports copy editor, can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5866.
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