Exclusive Interview with Jeremy Cornish by Chris Randall

Well after making a career as an enforcer back in the States and later the UK, hailing from Lucan, Ontario, the big 6'4  Canadian forward Jeremy Cornish as seen some highs  over his career.

NIHL South Editor Chris (Badger) Randall caught up with the Wightlink Raiders Head Coach to reflect on his time in the game, and what the future may possibly hold after recently announcing his decision to hang the skates up. 

The "Badger" put him under the spotlight.....

Badger:  At what age did you learn to skate and get involved in playing ?. 

JC: I started skating pretty young maybe three or four and started playing at seven. I played for my local team right up until I left to play Jr. A in Aurora. I have found memories growing up in my home town of Lucan, Ontario and we won a number of tournaments and All-Ontario Championships. I had some excellent coaches along the way and my Dad being one of them! Even at that young age, all I wanted to do was become a professional hockey player and I'm pretty sure not too many people expected me to progress the way I did.

Badger: Who was responsible/ how did it come about putting the skates on from  the beginning ?

JC: My Dad was responsible for giving me the opportunity to play. I started later than most of my friends because I hated putting the equipment on! Both my parents were very supportive throughout the years and have travelled a lot of miles to watch me play. 

Badger: What age did you turn  pro and just before that did  you go the college hockey route like most Canadiens ? . 

JC: Before I played professionally, I played three years of junior A. Two years in Aurora, Ontario and one year in Truro, Nova Scotia. The first two years I had maybe the best coach in my career, Brad Selwood was a former Toronto Maple Leaf. He instilled a lot of the values I still carry today with me as a coach. He was old school, honest and loved tough players. 

Badger: > From them early days did you get thrown into becoming an enforcer/dropping the gloves ?.  Or was it something you just liked ? .

JC : I wouldn't say I was thrown into it, but I was decent at it and I really liked the fact I was sticking up for team mates and I knew if I wanted to play professionally that would be the role I would have to play. I'm very fortunate that I have been able to play for as long as I have. There is a lot of negative press right now about fighting in hockey, but I try to think about what hockey has given me. I was fortunate to receive a University degree from my time in Basingstoke, travel and live in a lot of places I would have never visited and met my wife Rachael during my time in Newcastle. 

Badger: When you came to the Uk for the first time, during your time in the Elite League who would you say are the top 3 true tough guys you have fought ? . 

JC : I have fought a lot of tough guys over the years, but the three toughest have to be Wade Belak, Chris Mcallister and Mel Anglested. All three guys were very tough and to be totally honest, very intimidating. Fighting those guys were big highlights from my career, because those were players that have played and fought in the NHL. It was always nice to test myself against guys like that and see how I would do. 

Badger : Over  the years was you ever nervous before a fight ?. Especially if it was pre meditated ? . 

JC : Now that I don't fight often, I do sometimes reflect back on those days. I'm not sure I realised how nervous I was before big games, I liked to fight early in games and get it out of the way so I could focus on playing. I always enjoyed testing myself against other tough guys and I really enjoyed playing my role within the team. 

Badger : If there was a couple of things to describe what you like about playing on the island what would they be ? . (Doesn't necessarily have to be hockey related). 

JC : I've loved my time on the Isle of Wight as player-coach. I remember walking into the rink for the first time and thinking, what the hell have I got myself into here. Three years before that I had won the Elite League play-offs with Newcastle in front of 9000 people in Nottingham and now I was standing in the cube! It didn't take long for the Arena to become my favourite place to play though. It's a small rink and must be a terrible place for away teams to come and play. We have had an excellent home record over the years and that's because the rink is small and my teams always love playing for our home fans. We have the best support in the league and I believe our team is the best run team in the league. We have fantastic owners in Geoff and Steve and have always been great to work for. 

Badger: Of all your years playing what is your career highlight ? . Or are there several that stick out ? 

JC : I have lots of fond memories from everywhere I've played, but the Elite League play-off title with Newcastle, the League title with the Raiders in 2010 and finally our play-off win last season after making the finals on five other occasions without winning. The trophies have been fantastic, but I think reflecting back on how far our team on the Island has come during the last seven years is a massive accomplishment. I'm really proud of the fact that our players love playing for our club, we've had a number of fantastic young men play for our club and their commitment to travelling or living on the island has always been wonderful. 

Badger :  You have announced this is your last season playing. If the offer is there would you return as head coach for the Wightlink Raiders ?. Or is there more JC to be seen in British hockey ? . 

JC : Yes, this is my last year playing and I would like to continue from behind the bench next year. As the league gets better each year, I think it's time to hang the skates up and bring in another import to take my place. I've enjoyed every minute of playing on the island, but I'm really excited to get behind the bench and give my full attention to just coaching. 

I'll be in talks with Geoff and Steve in the near future and I hope they want to get a deal done. 

Badger: Finally in your own words what's your final thought to Uk hockey fans in general ? . 

JC : I've met a lot of great people while I've played in the UK and I would like to thank them for all of their support over the years. I may not have been everyone's favourite player, but I know I gave 100 percent for every club I played for.

Finally  not playing and having to deal with the aches and pain on a Monday morning will be nice, after hanging them up after the conclusion of this season. 

Badger: With your career of the ice going well , and two children to possibly follow in your footsteps I'm guessing your wife Rachel has been  one of your biggest supporters  over  the years? . 

JC:  I would like to  thank my parents for getting me into this great sport and all they have done for me from a young age. Later years I met my wife Rachel whilst in the North East when playing in the Elite League. Rachel would be  there every game and would like to thank my lovely wife for all her unwavering support over the years...as well as my parents. I owe then so much.

Well there you have it, guys across the league will have one less heavyweight to deal with next year. Let's hope the likeable Canadian Mr Jeremy Cornish stays in the game....no doubt he island faithful will be hoping behind their bench challenging the NIHl South's  top teams.