KAMLOOPS — Connor Ingram's achievements in three years with the Kamloops Blazers are almost too long to list.
There's the hardware, including back-to-back Most Valuable Player honours and a World Junior silver medal. Then, there are the intanglibles and his ability to steal any game, including a couple during the last two playoff runs against Kelowna.
They are qualities that got Ingram drafted 88th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in last year's NHL Draft, and the same reason they offered him his first pro contract, which he's signed at the Blazers office on Tuesday morning.
"It's exciting. I was expecting a little sleep in today, first day away from the rink. But it's a decent way to wake up," said Ingram. "It's rewarding. All those times you spend the long hours driving to the rink, getting cut from teams, getting passed over. It's all worth it now."
The Lightning were watching Ingram closely, particularly during the playoffs. Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman was at the Sandman Centre watching Game 4 when Ingram only allowed one goal on 49 shots in a 1-0 loss at home.
"They said they'll try and work on something by the end of the year, and they did exactly what they said they were going to do. That's nice, they made it really easy," said Ingram. "I guess that's why you have an agent. He made it really easy for me."
The 19-year-old finished the six-game series with 2.18 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage, the Blazers' best player almost every game. He'll now fly to Syracuse, New York on Wednesday to join the Lightning's AHL affiliate for the playoffs.
"Try and pack up as fast as I can here, then get on a flight tomorrow morning. Life's happening pretty fast right now," noted Ingram, two days after being eliminated from the WHL playoffs.
Ingram says he's not sure at the time point what the team's plan is, whether he'll even dress or play for the Syracuse Crunch.
With Sunday night's Game 6 loss likely his last as a Blazers, he says he'll miss Kamloops.
"It's been amazing. This has become home for me," said Ingram, who arrived in 2014. "Best billet family in the league. It's where my first real girlfriend came from. So it's been a lot of fun."
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