Making the adjustment

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Adam Courchaine is finding the adjustment to the professional game has a lot more to it than the X's and O's.

Courchaine, a 21-year-old Winnipegger, has made the jump with the Houston Aeros and he appeared in his sixth American Hockey League game last night against the Manitoba Moose.

The skilled forward had yet to record a point at the pro level, but Courchaine was excited to play his first game in Winnipeg since being a member of the AAA Midget Warriors.

Healthy scratch

Being a healthy scratch in 14 of the Aeros first 19 games was a challenge after playing such a prominent role as a high-scoring junior.

"It's tough, but it's something you have to deal with and hopefully you get an opportunity somewhere down the line," said Courchaine, who tallied 131 goals and 283 points in 285 Western Hockey League games over four seasons. "You practice hard, stay on top of things and stay in shape."

Courchaine was drafted by the Minnesota Wild (seventh round, 219th overall) in the 2003 NHL entry draft but never came to terms on a contract. However, Courchaine signed an AHL contract with the Wild's primary affiliate (the Aeros) in September.

The left-winger was quick to credit Vancouver Giants head coach Don Hay for helping him become a better two-way player in preparation of making the jump from junior to the pros. But perhaps he should have asked his former coach for a few recipes.

"You're more on your own, you've got to pay the bills, pay the rent and you've got to make your own food," said Courchaine, who shares an apartment with teammates Ryan Stokes and Erik Reitz. "Those guys have been a big help."

Aeros head coach Rob Daum believes Courchaine will eventually make the adjustment.

"It's just a matter of him trying to find his way," said Daum. "Adam hasn't played a lot, just because of the way our team has been (successful). We haven't made a lot of changes to our lineup, we haven't needed to. He's going to have to pick up the pace of his game and the competitiveness, I've seen flashes of that. Does he has the skills to make the adjustment? I believe he does, it's just a matter of time."

NOLAN DEMOTED: The Moose reassigned forward Brandon Nolan to the Columbia Inferno of the ECHL yesterday, bringing their active roster to 22 players (not including injured defenceman Tomas Mojzis, who is out with a broken jaw and recently signed forward Ryan Bayda, who is coming off knee surgery).

Nolan, 22, has shown glimpses of his skill during his three seasons with the Moose but has struggled to find consistency.

The Vancouver Canucks fourth choice (111th overall) in the 2003 NHL entry draft had one goal and six points in 11 games with the Moose this season and 12 goals and 35 points in 107 AHL games.


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