Adjusting to life in the American Hockey League — like leaving the nest and entering adulthood — is no easy task, especially as a young 20-something. It becomes a whole lot easier, however, if you have someone to go through it with.
That’s the route Colorado Eagles forwards Logan O’Connor and Shane Bowers decided to take when they became roommates for the season.
“I think we’re actually the only two roommates on the team,” admitted Bowers. “We like to keep it light and have a good time and we have a lot of fun when we’re together. I’m sure we annoy the guys when we’re together in the room.
“But it’s a lot of fun and he’s a great player. It’s fun just to have someone with a similar mindset and similar goals in mind, and living with him it’s good to be around and surround yourself with people like that.”
While the two don’t skate on a line together in games, if you attend and Eagles practice, it’s evident that the pair are great friends. You’ll often spot them side by side chatting between drills or playfully chirping each other. It’s also become a common occurrence that the two — along with one of Bowers’ linemates, T.J. Tynan — are always the last to leave the ice after practice ends. When the seriousness of the hour-long practice session ends and head coach Greg Cronin has left the ice, the three will stay behind and practice their shots, tip drills or just mess around with each other.
“Honestly I just love being out there. It’s always been something I’ve done in the past. Just working on little things, little shooting details here and there, and often times Bowers and Tynan and I will stay out there and work on little things,” said O’Connor. “I mean, It can’t hurt, you know, and I just love being out there with the guys.”
After practice ends, the real bonding begins. The roommates will often join some of their other teammates for lunch before heading home.
“After every practice, we got a pretty good crew that likes to go to lunch together and sort of just hang out with the guys and keep things light,” added O’Connor.
Cooking meals and watching television, and just generally relaxing after a long day of on-ice practice and off-ice training are some of the main activities the two Avs prospects have become fond of.
But what do two elite athletes and Colorado Avalanche top prospects eat or watch to unwind after these long practice days?
“When we get home, we like to cook a lot, make soup and watch The Bachelor and stuff. It’s been pretty fun that’s for sure,” says O’Connor.
Yes, The Bachelor. Maybe not the answer many would expect, but if it works, it works.
“Yeah, right now, we’ve been watching The Bachelor, so we’re looking forward to that episode (on Mondays),” Bowers grinned. “We’ve been into a lot of those stupid romance shows right now. Other than that, we get lunch and hang out, nothing too crazy.”
For what it’s worth, the two hope for the Alabama native Madison Prewett to win the affection of Bachelor subject Pete Weber, a love-hopeful Delta Airlines pilot from California. At some time during the season, the two were of the Victoria contingency, but that ship — or plane, rather — has sailed for O’Connor and Bowers.
Another question likely looming on your mind is which of the two is the messiest roomate.
“He’s messy and he’d admit that too,” O’Connor said of Bowers. “He’s not messy but he’s definitely messier than I am I’d say.”
And while The Bachelor has become Bowers’ and O’Connor’s monday routine, the two roommates also host game nights with the rest of the team every once in a while. A main crew of Dan Renouf, Sheldon Dries and Jacob MacDonald often attend the Chateau de Bowers and O’Connor for the game nights.
“We got a good group of guys. We have a card night every now and then, we play Catan, (which is) a board game. We got a really good group of guys who can get together most nights and we like to do that,” said O’Connor.
For the two roommates, living under the same roof has helped the two adjust to life as NHL prospects, after both were in the college circuit for varying amounts of time — with Bowers at Boston University and O’Connor at the University of Denver.
After making the jump to the pros in the AHL late last season, Bowers only had the chance to play a handful of games at the tailend of the Eagles’ season and playoff run. Then at the start of this season, the Avs 20-year-old prospect struggled a bit out of the gate. After failing to record a point in his first seven games this season, Bowers has since tallied nine goals and 23 points in his last 30 contests.
“Everyone has an adjustment period whether they like to admit it or not. I think in every league there’s going to be one,” Bowers said of the start of his season. “For every guy it’s something a little different, and for me, I’m trying to just stick to doing the things I was doing when the points were coming and still trying to do those now. I don’t think I really changed anything, just a matter of getting that first one out of the way.”
For O’Connor, he’s hit double digits in both goals and assists and is on pace to hit 40 to 45 points by season’s end, which would be close to the marks he set last season in his rookie campaign. He might have surpassed his prior year’s totals had it not been for a seven-game stint with the Avalanche earlier in the season, in which he tallied his first NHL goal while up with the big club. Still, O’Connor sees room for improvement in his game.
“I think I have to bear down on my chances a little bit more,” he said. “I feel with my speed and playing with Driesy (Sheldon Dries) and Greersy (A.J. Greer) right now we can generate a lot on the rush and getting odd-man rushes. So generating those is a big key for me. And our cycle game needs to continue to be good. Puck pressure is kind of our line’s strength and getting puck turnovers. If we continue to do that, I think we’ll have some success.”
Whether or not the two’s individual successes are a compliment to their housing situation could be up for debate. One thing is for certain though, that they’ve found a friendship and a tight bond on and off the ice, and that can’t hurt the production the two have seen so far this season.
“Yeah it’s pretty good and we’re pretty tight,” added O’Connor. “We spend a lot of time together every day, so we’ve had a good relationship in the past. We like to joke around and keep things light. We cook a lot together and pretty much do everything together so it’s been a good setup so far.”
“We both kind of have the same goals in mind and we both want to play in the NHL. Having someone there like that helps,” added Bowers. “We’re cooking meals together, making sure our nutrition is right, getting to the rink early, getting our workouts in. And then I think on the ice we push each other too, whether it’s in drills or in a game, helping each other out and getting on each other when need be. I think it just really helps having someone around with a similar mindset and a similar goal in mind.”