By Suzie Cool (@SuzKewl) | Published on October 30, 2019
In the American Hockey League, there are 76 regular-season games.
That’s 76 chances for players to go out on the ice and make an impression on their coaching staff and organization in just one season, and that’s not even including the games they could potentially see in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Last season, 45 different players saw time on the Rochester Americans roster at some point during the year. And how many Amerks players saw time in every single game during the 2018-19 campaign?
Everyone, meet Eric Cornel.
After appearing in all 76 regular season tilts last season, Cornel hit a milestone in his professional hockey career just last week. On Oct. 23 when Rochester took on the Hershey Bears for the 459th historical matchup between the AHL’s two oldest teams, it was in that same game that the Amerks forward dressed in his 100th consecutive regular-season game with the club.
WATCH: ERIC CORNEL BEFORE THE OCT. 23 GAME AGAINST HERSHEY
Modesty aside, Cornel had no idea that was the case nor was it something at the forefront of his mind.
“I kind of approach every day like a new day and I try to make the most of the day. I didn’t even know that I played in 100 straight games until you mentioned it, so that’s sort of my mindset. I’m always just taking it day by day, but to find that out, I was pretty proud of myself,” beamed Cornel when asked about the new career accomplishment.
And that’s just it, with Cornel entering his fourth year in the Flower City, some may not be very familiar with the guy whose most impressive stat is the amount of ice time he’s seen in the past couple of seasons. For everyone, even himself, it’s easy to become so accustomed to seeing someone so consistently in the lineup that it’s become a norm instead of an outstanding accomplishment.
But think about it. Seventy-six straight games last year. The first seven tilts of this season and the 17 others from the 2017-18 campaign that made this amazing feat possible. And yet, the Amerks forward flies under the radar just because he simply doesn’t lead the team in goals or time in the penalty box.
But an admirable trait, nonetheless.
WATCH: GORD DINEEN BEFORE THE OCT. 23 GAME AGAINST HERSHEY
“He isn’t in the spotlight other than with his teammates and with the coaching staff,” said Amerks interim head coach Gord Dineen when asked about the consistency of Cornel in the Rochester lineup. “His numbers might not be something that wows people, but his work ethic is. He’s an inspiration as far as to the guys in the dressing room and he’s an example for the young players, too.”
On top of leading the team in games played, Cornel set career-highs in other categories last season. The Rochester forward tallied a career-high in assists (13) and points (22) while matching a personal-best in goals (9). Most impressive, though, is the fact that his 76 games played during last year’s regular season makes Cornel just one of five Amerks to have accomplished this feat over the last eight years.
When asked about how he preps himself to be in the lineup every single night, Cornel took pride in his work ethic and self-care that helps push him to his limits.
“I’m not the strongest guy out there, but I take pride in conditioning and really working hard in the summer so that I can come into camp and I’m already in good shape, so they know they can put me out there because I’m ready for it. I think just away from the rink, too. I like to cook, and I take care of myself and make some good meals and get a lot of sleep.”
As a player that the coaching staff doesn’t have to worry about due to his dedication to the game of hockey, Cornel gets a ton of behind-the-scenes praise from his superiors and peers. Cornel is known as one of the hardest workers on the team and someone that can move up and down the lineup in a number of different situations when needed. This all should come as no surprise when we’ve seen him in more lineups than a majority of the roster over the last couple of seasons.
The best part of it all – Cornel is going out there and playing professional hockey every single night, something he’s dreamed of and worked for since he was a little kid. And although he has yet to make his debut in the National Hockey League, he still feels extremely fortunate to be able to call this a career.
Cornel exuded just how fortunate he was to be able to live out his dream when asked about his favorite part about being in the lineup almost every single game.
“When you take a step back and remind yourself that you’re playing pro hockey for a living – that’s something that you never take for granted. I think that’s something that probably motivates me the most, just to be able to do it as long as I can and I’m pretty fortunate to have this as a job.”
So, everyone, meet Eric Cornel.
A guy who might not lead the league in power-play goals or his team in assists, but a guy who goes out onto the ice every single night and celebrates with his teammates during the victories while trying to fix the little things after a tough loss. A consistent presence who betters his body by getting enough sleep and making healthy, home-cooked meals that consist of meatballs and rice. Someone who’s favorite color is red, his favorite snack is cereal and if he could have one superpower, he would want to be able to fly.
Luckily for us, we get to watch him fly up and down the ice in a number of different situations for the Amerks all season, while setting personal bests and helping push his team to get consistently better one game at a time.