It’s all in the family when it comes to hockey for Bulldogs forward Justin Courtnall. His dad Geoff scored 367 goals in his NHL career. His uncle Russ had 297. Justin, a Boston University product is in the early stages of his pro career but he shares some of his family’s hockey traits.
With four goals and an assist in his first “full” AHL season, Justin Courtnall missed six games at the beginning of December with an upper body injury, but returned just as ready and willing as ever to help his team to victory: “Using my speed and getting in on the forecheck, creating turnovers. Bringing that tough physical game.”
Head Coach Sylvain Lefebvre calls him a character guy, with the kind of know-how only certain players have: “Well, I think what’s helped him is to be born and raised almost in a locker room, so he knows the feel of the locker room, and we’re lucky enough to have a few of those guys here.”
Courtnall’s Dad, Geoff, and Uncle Russ, spent 17 and 16 years respectively, playing in the NHL and served as incredible role models for young Justin, who grew-up idolizing his famous father: “He was kind of gritty, skilled guy and obviously I don’t have quite the skill he does, but I try to bring some of that grit to the game.”
Lefebvre, who played with and against the elder Courtnalls, says Justin embodies many of the great qualities that his family became known for on the ice: “Well, the skating abilities, where Russ was a very fast skater, Geoff was more rugged but both were highly skilled and could score goals and could hurt you in different ways.”
Happy to be a Bulldog, Justin says his main goal this season is to become an asset here in Hamilton: “I think we’ve been doing well and have been pretty successful over the last little while so it’s exciting and I’m having a lot of fun.”