HOCKEY: Grand Forks native Turgeon leaves Omaha, turns pro
Tony Turgeon was a forward when he played youth hockey for the Grand Forks Supras and Wheat Kings. He is going back to his roots. Turgeon, a junior defenseman for Nebraska-Omaha, signed a pro contract Monday night with the Florida Panthers' organ...
Tony Turgeon was a forward when he played youth hockey for the Grand Forks Supras and Wheat Kings.
He is going back to his roots.
Turgeon, a junior defenseman for Nebraska-Omaha, signed a pro contract Monday night with the Florida Panthers' organization, giving up his final year of college eligibility.
The contract is a one-year, one-way deal with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League -- Florida's top minor-league affiliate. The Rampage want Turgeon to move back to forward after playing defense for the last eight years.
"I talked to a few coaches and they said that I was projected as a forward at the next level," said Turgeon, who lived in Grand Forks through his freshman year before leaving to play junior hockey. "I thought I might as well give it a try."
Turgeon played forward at the Florida Panthers' development camp last week, giving the organization a preview of what's to come.
"It was a little different right away," Turgeon said. "I think it would be harder to go from forward to defense than defense to forward. I played some forward last year so I was a little bit familiar with it."
Turgeon played 62 career games for Omaha, tallying six assists and racking up 169 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-4, 228-pound blue liner made an impact on games with his physical style of play. He will be expected to do so at the next level as well.
To prepare for the jump to the pros and a new position, Turgeon said he plays to spend the summer in Grand Forks, working out at The Hockey Academy in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
"I'll work on some little stuff like chipping the puck out of the zone, learning to block shots from the point and work in the corners, too," Turgeon said.
Turgeon said turning pro early was a tough decision.
"I really enjoyed Omaha," he said. "Coach (Dean) Blais is a great coach. It was a hard decision to leave. But it's a great opportunity going forward. I had to think about it for a long time, but I think it's the best choice for me."