---Local lad looks forward to pro hockey debut in Scotland
Having signed his first professional contract earlier this year, former University of Ottawa Gee Gees men's hockey captain Quinn O'Brien is hopeful that COVID-19 won't stop his debut.
Back in May, the Pontiac-native penned a one-year deal with the Glasgow Clan of the United Kingdom's Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) - joining the team alongside former Gee Gees teammates Medrick Mercier and Jacob Sweeney.
But, with the 2020-21 EIHL season postponed until at least December because of the pandemic, O'Brien hasn't packed his bags for Scotland just yet. Now back home in the Pontiac, working for wages and waiting for some good news, O'Brien admitted that being unable to play for so long and the uncertainty of the future frustrates him – noting that his rookie EIHL season may be cut significantly or entirely.
"It's up in the air, as to what's going to happen going forward," O'Brien said. "It's all speculation at this point. Nothing's official. But there is a chance that the season doesn't start at all from what I'm understanding right now." Not to mention, during his fifth and final season with the Gee Gees, O'Brien saw the team's quest for a U Sports national title wiped away because of the initial breakout of the virus in March – putting a bitter end to his collegiate career. Fortunately, he made his childhood dream of becoming a pro hockey player come true a couple of months later.
Focused on being as ready as possible for the upcoming EIHL season, O'Brien said it's getting quite challenging to remain completely motivated, especially with the reality of having to pay bills and living with a fiancée.
Despite opportunities to play in different parts of Europe and North America, O'Brien said he chose Glasgow for various reasons, noting that he is interested in living in the United Kingdom because of his Irish roots and that he was already enticed by the EIHL for quite some time. "I talked with one of the [Gee Gees] alumni who had played there for a few years," O'Brien said. "He said his experience was amazing ... it's a great opportunity to see a different part of the world and still play the North American style that's more in line with the style I play."
Unfamiliar with the Clan however, it didn't take long for him to find out about the organization's respected reputation. He noted that his university coach Patrick Grandmaitre played a crucial role in helping him get the opportunity with the Clan. Along with playing in Scotland, O'Brien said he couldn't be more excited about eventually calling Glasgow his home. "I'm looking forward to getting a look at where it all started for the O'Brien clan and being a tourist seeing a different part of the world is as exciting for me as the hockey part."
Born and raised in Campbell's Bay, the 25-year-old played several of his minor hockey years in Aylmer before moving up to play for the Outaouais Intrepide. In 2012, he was drafted into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) where he enjoyed a stellar five-year career. Enrolling at the University of Ottawa in 2016, O'Brien spent four years with the newly-revived Gee Gees program, eventually leading the team to its first Queen’s Cup Title since 2004 last season.