Bourbonnais Makes Immediate Impact for RoughRiders

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Their previous connection isn't as straightforward as you'd think.

Despite being hockey players from Rochester, N.Y., and only a couple years apart in age, Riley Bourbonnais and Stu Wilson never really hung out together. The most interesting part about their relationship comes from their fathers.

"Sometimes we'd skate together, but he probably lives about a half-hour from me," Bourbonnais said of his Cedar Rapids RoughRiders teammate. "My dad actually used to play at RIT, and his dad is the head coach there now. So there's the (big) connection."

Rochester Institute of Technology is the Division I college hockey program that Wayne Wilson (Stu's father) heads. Riley's father, John, and uncle, Jim Kartes, played for RIT in the 1980s.

"I did want to go to a (junior) team where I knew someone," Bourbonnais said. "So I was happy to come here and be with Stu."

Stu and the rest of the RoughRiders have got to be happy Bourbonnais is here. The sturdy first-year winger has scored three goals in his first two games with Cedar Rapids, which hosts Sioux City tonight and plays Saturday night at Waterloo.

The kid seems to have a nose for the net.

"He has always shown the ability to score growing up," said Riders Coach Mark Carlson. "He has good hockey sense, is a big, strong kid."

Bourbonnais was the Riders' third-round pick in the 2011 USHL Entry Draft after playing last season for Berkshire Prep School in Massachusetts, so you expected some sort of impact from him. He was on NHL Central Scouting's preseason "Watch List," last year but was never officially rated nor drafted.

He said that has served as motivation.

"It's made me want to work harder and push myself. That's why I came here. I knew it was going to be a battle," Bourbonnais said. "Coach always just tells me to move my feet out there. He wants me to play a team game. Coming from prep school, I always had to work hard out there. Coach never wants me to stop. I play with good linemates in Nick Saracino and Anders Schultz. We work really well together."
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