Adam Cracknell

Adam Cracknell

From JDF minor hockey to the NHL

Langford’s Adam Cracknell tastes the big time with St. Louis Blues

Adam Cracknell remembers playing Juan de Fuca minor hockey as a teenager and thinking the National Hockey League was “so far away.”

But for the 2010-2011 NHL season, Langford’s Cracknell found himself playing centre-forward for the St. Louis Blues for 24 games.

When he wasn’t playing for the NHL team, Cracknell laced up for the Peoria Rivermen, a farm team for the Blues.

During the season he played 68 games for the Rivermen, a team in the American Hockey League out of Illinois. On right wing, he scored six goals and had 19 assists during the regular season, and two goals in the playoffs.

“I was up and down (between the teams) all season,” Cracknell said.

Getting the call up to the NHL was a memorable moment for Cracknell. He called his parents first thing to share the news.

“It was an exciting time for myself and my family and my friends,” Cracknell said.

His first NHL game with the Blues was against Detroit in mid-December.

The hardworking six-foot-one forward finished his NHL stint on March 30, also against Detroit, with three goals and four assists.

The NHL is a big step from when Cracknell was a four-year-old kid playing hockey in his driveway.

He moved to the West Shore from Prince Alberta, Sask. when he was 15. He played one season with JDF minor hockey before he hitting the ice for the Junior B Saanich Braves at 16.

Now 25, Cracknell lives in Langford and is spending his summer training and preparing for the next season.

“Setting goals is a big thing if you want to accomplish anything,” Cracknell said. “My next goal is to be a full-time NHL player.”

At the end of August, Cracknell will head back to St. Louis to attend the Blue’s training camp.

“Usually there is about 50 players there and we practise for a week and play about 10 exhibition games,” Cracknell said.

In the meantime, Cracknell is coaching youth hockey players at Puckmasters in Colwood. He coaches one-on-one sessions as well as group camps.

When on the ice with the aspiring players, he emphasizes that a great skill in hockey is listening.

“Listen to any advice people have to give,” Cracknell said.

While the kids think it’s neat to be coached by an NHL player, it’s their parents that get awestruck, said Puckmasters president Kevin De Jong.

Over the summer Cracknell works out with a personal trainer for three-hour sessions, three times a week. He also skates on the ice treadmill at Puckmasters twice a week.

“(The treadmill) is really hard, but it’s rewarding. It’s hard to stay on skates at a speed you are not used to,” Cracknell said. “It inclines so you are definitely increasing cardio too.”

Coaching young, up-and-coming hockey players is something that is important to Cracknell. When in minor hockey, he was coached by NHL players such as Curtis Brown of the Buffalo Sabres and Roman Vopat of the St. Louis Blues.

“As a kid (the NHL) seems like it is so far away. Especially when you play for a team that is not the best or you aren’t winning games,” Cracknell remembers. “I was never a star player, I just worked hard and played for fun.”