NORFOLK, VA – On November 2, the Norfolk Admirals inked free agent Kenton Helgesen to a contract. When Norfolk signed Helgesen, they received a blue-collar, physical player. His resume includes stops in Utah, Indy, and Florida. Also, the 23-year-old was Anaheim’s seventh-round draft pick in 2012. Get to know Helgesen in this Q&A with The Sin Bin’s Ted Warren.
The Sin Bin: How did you start playing hockey?
Kenton Helgesen: It started off in a really small town of about 3.000 people where I grew up, a small town in Canada, called Fairview. When I was young, my Dad built a rink out in my front yard and it was cold enough we could have the rink for the winter months. It started off when I was 4 or 5-years-old.
TSB: How was it playing for your hometown junior team, the Calgary Hitmen?
K.H.: It was unreal, I was fortunate enough to play my whole four years of junior with the Hitmen in the WHL. I have nothing but good things to say about that organization and my time there through the fans, the organization, and the city. It was a lot of fun.
TSB: Your final two years, you were given a leadership role. First, you were an assistant captain then your final season you were named Captain. How did you handle that responsibility being so young?
K.H.: Pretty good. It’s a little different when you’re in junior because as a 20-year-old you’re actually one of the older guys. I didn’t feel like I was a young guy because it felt I was more a mentor for some of the young guys that were 16, 17 and 18-years-old. You learn from older guys when you’re a younger guy and you learn their leadership qualities. You try to learn from it and pass it down to the younger guys.
TSB: What kind of leader were you in Calgary? Where you a vocal guy or lead by example type of leader?
K.H.: I was a little bit of both. I was definitely a vocal guy. I was always positive and I thought my leadership came on ice from hard work. That was a big part that trickled through and guys looked up to me for it.
TSB: How did your coaches in Calgary help you develop?
K.H.: It was great. My first year I had Mike Williamson and he helped me out and I learned a lot from him my first couple of years. He knows what it’s all about. He just taught me, that at the next level you’re going to be playing against men and it’s a lot different.
TSB: What is your style of play? What do you bring to Norfolk?
K.H.: My speed! I like to use my body out there. I’m a big physical guy who can use my linemates and get in on the forecheck and try to get the puck. The biggest part is my speed and hard work.
TSB: How was it going to rookie camp or main camp with Anaheim?
K.H.: It was unreal. I remember my first camp. I was pretty nervous getting to play with regular NHL guys, but they’re all really good. You learn a lot from them. You learn what it takes to get to the next level and I was fortunate enough to experience it.
TSB: Your younger brother, Tyson, plays for the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL. You had the opportunity to play against him your final year in Junior. How was that experience?
K.H.: All my brothers, sisters and my parents were actually fortunate enough to come to the game. It was during my last year as a 20-year-old and it was during his rookie season. I only played him once that year since we were in a different division, but my parents were finally able to make it down there. I never played with him before since we’re three-years apart. So I’ve always been at the next level. It was definitely an experience. We were both very happy to have our parents there. It’s one I’ll always remember forever.
Helgeson and the rest of his Norfolk Admiral teammates play the league-leading Florida Everblades twice this weekend at The Scope. Faceoff for both contests is set for 7 pm ET.