During the regular season, McConnell, in his second season pro out of Bowdoin University, contributed 16 points (8 G, 8 A, +5, 88 PIM) in 60 games played. He played in 15 of 16 games during the playoffs and tallied five points (2 G, 3 A, +3, 27 PIM) including the game-winner in Game 4 against the Colorado Eagles.McConnell took apart Odessa's Jean Bourbeau in Game One of the Southern Conference Championship
McConnell wasn't the flashiest player or the highest scorer on a squad deep in forwards, but there's no doubt that a player who brings grit, distraction (to foes), a good work ethic and the occasional goal to the table can be a very valuable commodity.
Playing with a sore shoulder, aggravated back in January, McConnell was a hard-worker who showed a lot of fortitude in his play and certainly was an invaluable member of the 2008-09 Texas Brahmas.
I spoke with Greg this morning at the players' apartment complex in North Richland Hills. Here is our conversation.
Q: I think I labeled you as the Brahmas' agitator early on in the season. There were times where I was so amused at an opposing player who got sent to the penalty box for retaliating after a check you had finished.
A: Well, I just try and go out there and stir the pot; try to get the other teams' mind off the game and onto me. I just did whatever I could. Try to be a little rowdy out there...
Q: So were you intentionally trying to be an instigator?
A: Yeah, I didn't want them to like me. It was fun out there. I know my role was to go out there and stir the pot and do that sort of stuff.
Q: Let's talk about Game Five. Going into the game, as an individual, did you have a pretty good idea that you guys were going to wrap it up at NYTEX?
A: Well, you know we hoped. We were all pretty confident in the locker room. We didn't come out as strong as we would have liked to in the first period...
Q: Yeah, the Eagles scored pretty quickly...
A: Yeah, but we had a great group of leaders on the team who kept us all together. We didn't panic. Just going out there and feeling confident was huge for us.
Q: It was pretty obvious, half-way through the game that it was pretty much a done deal. Just a matter of getting through the rest of the game. What were you thinking, knowing that you pretty much had it won and just had to hold on for the rest of the game?
A: There was some excitement but, you know, we didn't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. They had a great team and they could score a few goals quickly, so we just tried to keep our emotions in check and to finish out the game. The last few seconds, we got pretty excited. We knew that it had all come to fruition...it was a pretty great feeling.
Q: So the final buzzer goes off and there are hats and gloves flying and the team merges on the ice to celebrate. From an emotional standpoint, where were you at right there?
A: I can't even describe it. It was so great. All the guys' hard work...from Fonger and Ronnie, throughout all the Summer last year. Guys training and just everything coming together to that moment was, it was something special.
Q: I took a great picture of you kissing the Cup. At that moment when it was passed to you and you've got it in your hands...what was that feeling like? You had really worked hard towards it, you had bought in to everything Fonger had said and you did what you had to do, like you said, play your role and then you get to that moment where the Cup is in your hands. What was that feeling like?
A: It was pretty surreal. It didn't really sink in until a few days after...what we had done and what we had accomplished. Just skating around that ice with all the fans that you know, support us over the last two years, there waiting and sticking around, it was a great feeling.
Q: Yeah, it was quite a night - once in a lifetime; but maybe not. You know, next season will be here before you know it. Are you planning on sticking around? Have you made any decision about playing with the Brahmas next season?
A: Well, you know I'm going to go home and get my shoulder better and relax for a bit, get away from hockey for a couple of weeks and hopefully come back and work something out. This is definitely a place I'd want to be. I made a lot of great friends throughout the fan club and the community, so I definitely love this area and this team and this organization.