Kern County’s Rodrigue plans for future career in QMJHL
Emile Rodrigue was born in Quebec and learned the game of hockey in his native country.
Two years ago, Rodrigue and his family moved to Bakersfield as his father Sylvain Rodrigue is one of two goalie coaches for the Edmonton Oilers, working with the club’s AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors.
The younger Rodrigue joined the Kern County Knights team in the LA Kings High School Hockey League and developed his game the past two seasons.
Back in June, the talented forward was selected by his hometown Chicoutimi Saguenéens in the QMJHL Entry Draft, going in the 13th round (236th overall).
Now, Rodrigue has made it a priority to play junior hockey back home.
“It was an amazing feeling when the coach called me to announce I was drafted by Chicoutimi,” said Rodrigue. “For sure, it’s a goal to make the team but I still a have a lot a work to do. It’s a huge step to play there at that level. It’s faster, the players are stronger, and the skill level is very high. I hope I will have a chance to attend the team’s training camp, but nothing is sure because of COVID-19. I will know more about it in a couple weeks.”
Rodrigue’s older brother Olivier is a goaltender in the QMJHL, playing the past four seasons for the Drummondville Voltigeurs (2016-19) and Moncton Wildcats (2019-20). He is also a signed Edmonton prospect after getting drafted by the Oilers in the second round (62nd overall) in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Kern County coach Paul Willett said he knew Rodrigue was a “pretty good player” as he played Bantam AAA prior to arriving in Bakersfield.
“I had the opportunity to spend two years get to know Emile on and off the ice, and any coach is going to tell you that they want to coach quality players and quality people – Emile amplifies that,” Willett said. “He never has a problem with any kind of working habits in games and in practice. He is the new-school type of play player – not overly physical but extremely smart. Skates extremely well, great pivots on both left and right sides, and has his head on a swivel.”
Willett added that Rodrigue plays the game the right way, and that may translate to a successful junior career in Canada.
“Emile has a team-first mentality, always has a smile on his face, always wants to be on the ice – just loves the sport,” said Willett. “He respects coaches, takes criticism the right way, and never points fingers. He has been a pleasure to coach. I do believe he has the right character and all the right tools to one day play in the QMJHL.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Aug. 17, 2020)