For Isaac French, the move to Red Wing has gone extremely well. The senior is contributing on the score sheet and blazing down the ice with unmatched speed for the Winger boys’ hockey team. His passion for becoming a better player every night has won over his teammates and his move was eased by Minnesota's passion for hockey.
Originally from Parker, Colo., French is also an assistant captain on the team. It's a sign that he fits in.
"(French) always has a positive attitude," said Red Wing head coach Tony Casci. "He's always willing to fire the guys up from time to time. It’s always good to have that positive attitude, especially in a timely moment."
It's that positive attitude French believes allowed him to adapt quickly with the play style of the team and become a positive presence in the locker room. Moving from one high school to another may not be a big transition. Moving from Colorado to Minnesota had French worried about acceptance.
But not for long.
"You meet 21 new family members. They're your brothers," French said. "They want to help you just as much … I've been growing within the community and it's all helped from this hockey program. It's that confidence where I'm not talking to 21 strangers when I walk through the door, I'm talking to 21 new brothers. From there I can branch off and meet new people."
French said bonding with teammates allowed him to become relaxed with his new surroundings.
It started in October with captains practices. French said he gained support from his teammates quickly and he developed a social role with the Wingers.
Casci said French is always looking for ways to get better and improve the play of those around him, something that seems to be a trend with whatever line French is placed on.
As of late, French has been paired with sophomores Jack Dube and Casey Larson. The trio of forwards has combined for 11 points in the past three games while French has scored four goals, which included a hat trick on Jan. 11 against Simley.
On the season, French is tied for second on the team in goals with six and tied for first in points with 17.
French says it’s his speed and grinding play style that makes him a solid player.
"I don't know if I have the nicest hands or the nicest shot, but all I know is I'm going to give it 100 percent," French remarked when asked if he thought he was a high-skilled player. "Just work myself into a corner, go out there and break bones, take hits. Just try to win the game for my team. If I look skilled out there that's great, but I'm just out there trying to win the game for my team."
It's clear how much passion French has when it comes to helping his team. He's 5-foot-9 but skates around like a big bruising forward. He finds ways to seemingly always be involved in the play whether its making a pass from the corner after striping the puck away from a defender, flying through the neutral zone with the puck or dishing a stretch pass to a teammate through the neutral zone.
"We talk about the difference between a hit and a check," Casci said. "You can hit a guy, but if he still has the puck it doesn't really help us a lot. He's definitely one that's able to take another player's hands away and really pin or separate them from the puck. When it comes to actual body checking and separating the opponent from the puck, he's doing a really good job of that especially at neutral ice. That's a tough skill to teach."
"It's almost like playing chess, but out on the ice where everyone is trying to hit each other," French added.
His transition to Red Wing showed him his passion for the sport was matched by those in Minnesota. He said in Colorado, ice was not as readily available as it is in Minnesota. Additionally, he said there were few enough teams in Colorado that it lacked variety. Playing for Red Wing, he said he's seen more skill and experienced new rivalries.
"Everyone has history with the game, it's special to see," he said.