CORBEIL MAKES QUICK TRANSITION TO THE PROSFeatures | 3/16/2011 3:28:16 PM | Michael Jafari
Buffalo Bandits defenseman Chris Corbeil may be a relative newcomer to the team, but he’s no stranger to the competiveness that is needed to play professional lacrosse.
In his second season with the team, Corbeil has been a huge factor on the Bandits defense this year as the 22-year-old has contributed four goals, eight points and leads the team with 80 loose balls. Corbeil earned NLL Defensive Player of the Week honors for a strong defensive performance versus Boston on Mar. 12. He recovered five loose balls and forced one turnover in the win, and also scored his fourth goal of the season.
Corbeil’s lacrosse career began a few years ago simply because his friend’s team did not have enough players. Although he was very unfamiliar with the game, Corbeil knew from the start that lacrosse fit his skill set.
“I always have been a hockey player, and I got introduced to lacrosse that way. I was playing minor in Burlington, Ontario, and the lacrosse team was short a couple guys. It was coached by one of the parents on the team, so he talked to my dad about me joining,” recalled Corbeill. “I came out even though I didn’t really know what I was doing the first time and didn’t even put the equipment on really, and I think I was wearing mostly hockey gear. But I loved it from the second I hit the floor, and I was a little natural with the speed, so it worked out great ever since.”
Corbeil never took in to consideration how much talent he really had, nor did he ever think he would end up being a professional lacrosse player. However, that thinking would change at the end of his minor lacrosse career, when more and more people starting to take notice of the London, Ontario native.
“It didn’t even cross my mind until a significant time later. I remember my midget coach actually did all these interviews with the kids on the team in my last year of minor, and he asked me if I had any aspirations of playing pro. I just laughed and said that I would love to play pro, but I don’t think I am actually good enough to ever do it. However, I was fortunate enough that in my last year of junior, we hosted the world cup of Brampton, and it gave me a lot of exposure and allowed me to showcase my skills to a lot of the scouts, which led to Buffalo picking me up in the draft, and things just worked out great for me,” said Corbeil.
Corbeil’s stellar defensive play led to the Bandits selecting him in the second round of the 2009 NLL Entry Draft. Unlike most rookies, Corbeil impressed the coaching staff early and won a roster spot for the 2010 season.
“I talked to some people beforehand because I didn’t know too much about the league and how to get started in it. Most of them said that I had an outside shot to make the team, but chances are that I would have to sit out games and maybe be a practice player for the first year or two,” recalled Corbeil. “It just worked out in Buffalo because they needed left-handed defensemen and guys that can run the floor, and I guess I filled the void last year and got a ton of exposure quick.”
Corbeil finished the season with three goals and nine points while scooping up 81 loose balls in his rookie campaign. The defenseman was also named to the NLL All-Rookie Team for his impressive first year in the league.
“It really is insane, and it comes down to the fact that Buffalo is giving me the opportunity to become a significant part of the lineup night in and night out, which I am grateful for. A lot of other teams make their rookies sit and wait to get their exposure slowly, and I was just thrown out to the wolves to feed or be fed on. It really is surprising to think of how far Steve Priolo, Travis Irving, Ben McCullough and I have come,” said Corbeil.
Corbeil’s success is even more impressive when considering how busy the defenseman is off the turf. Corbeil is currently going to school at Western Ontario University, where he is enrolled in the business program. In addition to going to school, Corbeil also plays left wing for the school’s varsity hockey team. During his two-year collegiate hockey career, Corbeil has collected 17 points in 37 regular season games and also scored 12 points in 12 playoff appearances. Perhaps one of the biggest moments of Corbeil’s career was when he scored the game-winning goal in a playoff matchup against Windsor back on Feb. 18.
“It’s funny because (my hockey teammates) always want to come down for a game, but they have hectic schedules too, so they’re never able to. Although the Bandits are my first priority, they think it’s funny because they wonder where I find the time, but it’s awesome, and I love doing both because it’s a lot of fun.”
When his school and sports schedules go on hiatus in the summer months, Corbeil likes to relax and watch baseball games. Although a wide range of Blue Jays, Yankees and Mets fans surround him, Corbeil prefers to root for a different team that is well out of his territory.
“I’m a big Boston Red Sox fan. Last weekend was my first trip down to Boston because I missed the trip last year, due to a knee injury. It was great to go to Boston,” Corbeil said in reference to the Bandits’ 9-8 road victory over the Blazers. “I have been looking forward to that trip for a while, so it was cool especially since I could wear my Red Sox hat around town and not get chirped at like I normally do around here. I can’t find any friends here, so Boston was nice.”