The Inferno Interview Gleason Fournier
For our second off-season interview of 2016 we talk to mobile defenceman Gleason Fournier. Joining the Devils at the midpoint of last season from a struggling Alaska Aces, Fournier a Red Wings 3rd round NHL draft pick really showed us what he was made of with the move to the big ice of the IAW. Gleason was kind enough to take some time out to answer our questions.
The-Inferno - You arrived through the season from Alaska Aces, how was it fitting into a team halfway through the season?
Gleason Fournier - I’ve done it once in the past and it’s actually quite easy when you have a great group of guys helping you fit into the team. That’s how it happened when I came to Cardiff. I felt right away that I was part of the team and everyone made an effort to make me feel that way. It obviously took some games to ajust to the game but Lordo helped me a lot to get comfortable on the ice and with the system
The-Inferno - After flying all that way and rocking up in Cardiff, what were your first thoughts on seeing the Big Blue Tent (BBT)? And how much advance warning were you given haha?
Gleason Fournier - I know there was a new rink that we were supposed to move to but I had no idea how the BBT was. At first thought I was wondering how can a professional team play in there haha. But once I played my first game I was stunned by how great it was because of the crowd and the noise. It was a special place to play and i’m glad I had the opportunity to experience what it was like.
The-Inferno - What was it like moving from the relatively small ice of the BBT to the new arena, was it easy to adapt to?
Gleason Fournier - Yes it was easy for me because I came from Alaska and over there it’s a big ice also. I also played against a team in my junior that had a big ice so I knew what it was going to be like.
The-Inferno - What attracted you to the UK and the Devils? Did you know much about the league before the Devils approached you?
Gleason Fournier - I knew absolutely nothing. Some people where telling me good things and some were telling me bad things. I took a chance because I wanted to move out of the east coast league and I’m glad I made that choice. Not only for school purpose but also because it’s better hockey than where I was and I can develop more as a player over here.
The-Inferno - It was mentioned when you signed that you'd previously played with Joey Martin in Toledo, how much do you speak to other players before switching clubs?
Gleason Fournier - I didn’t speak at all to Joey Martin. I spoke to a mutual friend that me and Guillaume Doucet have and that’s how I got more information about it. I knew that if Joey Martin was playing in that league then it must be a good calibre.
The-Inferno - After half a season here, and looking towards next season is there one club in particular that you feel we have a rivalry with?
Gleason Fournier - I think Nottingham is the team that I feel we have the biggest rivalry. Maybe that’s because it’s the team that I played the most games against this season or maybe it’s because we played them in the Challenge Cup final. But from the energy of the crowd when we play them at home, I think Nottingham, Sheffield and Belfast are probably our biggest rivals.
The-Inferno - We like to ask players if they have set themselves goals for the season to come and what expectations they have of their own and the team’s performance. Have you set yourself any goals for the season?
Gleason Fournier - In North American hockey I like to say that there is only one goal, but here there’s three cups to win so I have three goals. I think wherever you play that has to be the way you think but our mindset has to be in the present focusing on the process. That is the same thing for personal goals. You can’t focus on results because it’s in the future. I’ll go the extra mile to help my team win and to do that I’ll work and focus on the process.
The-Inferno - How did the atmosphere created by the fans in both the BBT and IAW compare to where you had played before?
Gleason Fournier - I was lucky enough to play in different cities where hockey is popular. From my junior team in Rimouski to Grand Rapids in the AHL, those two places where very special to play and the crowd was unique in each city. Both the BBT and the IAW are definitely as unique and as loud as those places I played before. The atmosphere created by the people of Cardiff definitely beat the hell out of the majority of teams in the ECHL. Every athlete always says to their actual fans that they are the best they ever played for and it’s hard to know if they tell the truth or not but for me I can swear that playing in Cardiff is the best experience I had. The warm and welcoming atmosphere can be felt by any Devil on the ice and I can’t wait for the season the start to have that feeling again.
The-Inferno - And what is the best venue you've played in during your career so far, and the best venue in this country?
Gleason Fournier - Surprisingly the best venue I played in was in the ECHL. It is the Amway Center in Orlando where I played for the Solar Bears. This building is primarily use for the Magic in the NBA and has its own nightclub on the rooftop. In United Kingdom I think Belfast had the best arena. From a player point of view it is nice to play there because of the installation and the space we have in the locker room.
The-Inferno - For the last few seasons we've been in the situation where all our imports are from Canada, how much effect does that have on the atmosphere in the team? We're guessing there are a few players you've played with/against before over here?
Gleason Fournier - I played against Culligan and Haddad in junior and I played with Martin in Toledo. I think its fun to share and remember past times with the boys. I have no idea how it affects the team but having great people around you and who work and bound together is helping the way we play for sure.
The-Inferno - Can you tell us what is your proudest achievement in your career so far?
Gleason Fournier - Winning the Calder Cup back in 2013 is without any doubt my proudest achievement. The season and the playoffs we had in Grand Rapids was an unbelievable experience to live. Nothing can replace that feeling of being a champion and i’m glad that I had the opportunity to be part of that team. I learnt a lot from my time over there and I’m a better played because of it.
The-Inferno - Obviously we came pretty close to winning a few things last season but ultimately fell short, how much does that spur the players on for the next season?
Gleason Fournier - I think the experience we gained as a team is very interesting because we are well aware of what it takes to win those trophies and it’s going to be a nice challenge to do better than the past season. We know what we are capable of and I think that coming pretty close like that is going to give some confidence to the guys that we can do it.
The-Inferno - The preseason schedule has been released and it's an earlier start, but against some top drawer opponents! The fans are pretty excited, but how do the warmup games go down with the players?
Gleason Fournier - I think it’s going to be fun because we are going to compare ourself and our team to other leagues and players. It’s going to be a great challenge and we can learn a lot from those opportunities. Plus, I think it’s going to be great for the fans as they can see different teams and style of hockey.
Thanks to Gleason for his time and we look forward to seeing what he can achieve with a full season as a Devil.
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