Last season, Philippe Cornet was the Oklahoma City Barons leader in goals with 24, tied in third for points with 37 and was named to the Western Conference AHL All-Star Squad in only his second pro season. However, the winger was sent down to the ECHL to start the 2012-13 season with the Stockton Thunder.
“It wasn’t easy at the beginning because I was sent down. It wasn’t something I was expecting but, I think overall, it was pretty good because it gave me the chance to play a lot more,” said Cornet.
In just 18 games with Stockton, Cornet was second in scoring with nine goals and 23 points. He took advantage of his increased ice time as he was playing on the Thunder’s first line, and became a key player for their special teams in both penalty killings and powerplays.
The Val-Senneville, Que., native was drafted in the fifth round – 133rd overall - in the 2008 Entry Draft.
After being drafted, Cornet spent two more years in juniors before joining the Barons in 2010, where he spent two full seasons with the team and on Jan. 31, 2012, right after being selected to the AHL All-Star Squad, Cornet received the call to join the Oilers. Cornet made his NHL debut on Jan. 31, 2012 against the Colorado Avalanche and on his second shift, he collected his first NHL point on a Jordan Eberle goal. He logged just a little more than ten minutes of ice time during his two-game call up with the Oilers before returning to the Barons on Feb. 4.
Cornet says getting called up was one of the greatest experiences he’s had since being drafted.
“It was great. Playing with the Oilers was a dream come true. I think every one of us in the AHL, our dream is to play in the NHL. I got a chance to be called up last year and I got my first point in my first game. It was something that was really big for me and hopefully I’ll get another call up. I’ll just keep working hard down here and getting results.”
The transition between the leagues has been more than beneficial for Cornet because it provided feedback and ways to improve and work on his skills further.
“They said they want me to keep my foot moving and be good at what I do best and that’s with the puck, controlling the puck, winning the battle one-on-one and bringing the puck to the net and trying to make my linemates better too. They wanted me to be a good offensively and they wanted me to be a two-way player so that’s what I have been focusing on. I think my offensive game has been pretty good lately and offensively, the results are there too,” said Cornet.
After starting the season with the Thunder, Cornet was reassigned back to the Barons and joined the team on Nov. 22, 2012. Since then, he has tallied eight goals and 17 points in 25 games. He credits his current success to playing on a line with Jonathan Cheechoo and Mark Arcobello and by keeping his game simple, “they’re two great players and all three of us have great chemistry. We’re just trying to keep things simple, we’re using our speed, moving our feet, we’re putting pucks on net and we’re driving to the net.”
The OKC Barons are currently sitting tenth in the Western Conference, just three points shy of the eighth and final playoff spot but with 21 games left in the season, Cornet likes the team’s chance of making the playoffs.
“We just have to focus on ourselves. We know there are other teams ahead of us and they’re going to keep winning games. We can’t keep focusing on them. We have to focus on us and if we keep playing the way we are playing lately, our chances are really good at making the playoffs.”