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Wathier a Winner

Wednesday, 06.06.2007 / 4:40 PM / News
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Wathier a Winner
After injuries hampered much of his 2005-06 season, left wing Francis Wathier rebounded to have an outstanding campaign this year, highlighted by his recent contributions toward a Kelly Cup championship with the ECHL Idaho Steelheads.

Dallas' sixth-round pick (No. 185 overall) in the 2003 Draft, Wathier spent much of the 2006-07 campaign with the AHL Iowa Stars, where he notched 14 goals in 57 games. He was tied for first on the club in game-winning goals (5), and was selected by Iowa Stars fans as the Fan Favorite for this season.

The native of St. Isidore, Ontario, skated in 17 games with Idaho during the regular season, recording 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists) and being selected to the 2007 Rbk ECHL All-Star Game. Upon completion of Iowa's run in the Calder Cup Playoffs, where he recorded four assists in 12 contests, Wathier joined his Boise mates for their ECHL playoff push.

A two-time Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion with the Hull Olympiques and the 2006 American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year, Wathier notched a goal and an assist in seven playoff games for Idaho as the Stars' ECHL affiliate topped the Dayton Bombers to clinch the 2007 Kelly Cup championship.

DallasStars.com had the opportunity to visit with Wathier as he celebrated Idaho's Kelly Cup to discuss his successful campaign and his goals for this summer, as well as his draft memories.

DallasStars.com: After winning two QMJHL President's Cups as a junior, what was it like to be a part of a professional championship with Idaho?

Wathier: "This championship run with Idaho was unbelievable. I was a part of two championship teams with the Hull Olympiques, we won the Quebec league twice in four years. We lost both times at the Memorial Cup, so there were some highs and lows winning our league but then losing in the finals both times at the Memorial Cup. But winning the Kelly Cup with the Steelheads was an incredible feeling. Winning my first championship as a pro is really special and it was a good group of players working hard toward one goal. Everyone is really proud of what we accomplished here as a team. B.J. Crombeen came back from Finland and John Lammers came down here from Iowa, so it means a lot to all of us. Idaho is a great organization and has a great coaching staff."

DallasStars.com: What was the transition like for you, immediately joining the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL Playoffs after the Iowa Stars' playoff run came to an end?

Wathier: "It was a pretty easy transition for me. As soon as the Iowa series with Chicago was over, (Idaho Head Coach) Derek Laxdal called (Iowa Director of Hockey Opertaions) Scott White to ask if I was able to play, and if I wanted to come join Idaho in the playoffs. I said I wanted a flight first thing the next morning because I wanted to be there for them. I played a couple games in Idaho during the season, so I still felt like I was a part of that team. I'm really glad I was able to come play in Idaho and be a part of this Kelly Cup championship team."

DallasStars.com: What did your dual playoff runs with the Iowa Stars and Idaho Steelheads mean to you and your development?

Wathier: "These playoff runs gave me a lot of confidence and experience, because playing in stressful situations is always a plus. This can only help my development and will show me what needs to be put on the table in order to be successful. It's going to be a huge boost for me heading into training camp next year. It's going to be a good challenge to build on the winning we did this year. Every team wants winners, and it's always something nice to put under your belt. Training this summer, I'm going to give a good push and I want to get into the best shape of my life for camp in Dallas and make a really good impression. I want to play in Dallas and I want to carry the momentum into next season and beyond."

DallasStars.com: What did it mean for the Iowa Stars to reach the second round of the AHL Playoffs?

Wathier: "It was really important, because we wanted to show the big club in Dallas that we are winners and we like to compete. We want to win and prove that we have it in us to be successful in pressure situations. As a hockey player, you want to win Cups, and yes, the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal, but we were focusing on bringing the Calder Cup to Iowa this year. We had to battle for two months to make the playoffs, so we went into the playoffs on a roll. We beat Omaha, which was an unbelievable series to go through, and then we had a tough series against a good Chicago club."

DallasStars.com: How have you seen Des Moines develop as a hockey town in the last seasons, and how have you liked playing there?

Wathier: "Des Moines is great. The Stars have a great set up there, it's a great organization and Wells Fargo Arena is an outstanding place to play. It's fun to play there, the fans are behind us and pushing us to do more. Last year, I was injured and got to watch a lot of games, and it was neat seeing the city just sort of rally around the team. Now that we have a couple playoff runs under our belts, we hope to continue to develop a fan base and make it into a hockey-mad city."

DallasStars.com: In addition to being selected by Iowa Stars fans as the Fan Favorite for 2006-07, how much has Iowa become a part of your life?

Wathier: "Actually, Iowa is a part of my life and my fiance's life for good now. Her favorite movie ever was Field of Dreams, so when I was planning on proposing to her, I thought that doing it at the actual Field of Dreams would be a good idea. So we drove out there, it's like three hours, and she had no idea what my intentions were. It looks exactly the same as it did in the movie, with the house, the bleachers and the cornfields. So I took her to home plate, got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. It was definitely a memorable moment!"

DallasStars.com: With the 2007 NHL Entry Draft mere weeks away, what kind of memories do you have from your draft year?

Wathier: "My parents and I, along with some friends, drove the 20 hours down to Nashville to be in the arena for the draft. You don't hear your name for a whole day and you are waiting and waiting. Every pick, you hope you hear your name and it gets to be a long day. When I heard 'from the Hull Olympiques...,' I turned around and heard my name, and I was just so happy. I didn't even realize which team had picked me at first. We all got up and hugged each other and it was a dream come true. Then, I saw the guy come to me with the Dallas Stars jersey, and it was an unbelievable moment. It's one of the best memories I've ever been a part of. I'm so glad I was chosen by that organization. I felt like I had come so far and overcame so much -- from being a walk-on in junior, to moving from defense to forward -- so for the Stars to give me a chance meant the world. Now, I'm just trying to do my best to show them they made a smart choice. Dallas showed that they believed in me and I'm trying to re-pay them for that."

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