Marly Quince reflects on hockey pursuit from Sioux Lookout to the ECHL
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Marly Quince is in the midst of his first season with the Reading Royals, who compete in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).
Quince started the year playing in Tennessee for the Knoxville Ice Bears in the Southern Professional Hockey League. After being tied for second in league scoring with nine goals and 13 points, Quince signed an ECHL contract with the Royals in November. Quince’s signing with the Royals, who are affiliated with the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Philadelphia Flyers and American Hockey League’s (AHL) Lehigh Valley Phantoms, saw him relocate from Knoxville, Tennessee to Reading, Pennsylvania.
Relocating isn’t a new experience for Quince, who moved from Sioux Lookout at the age of 15 to pursue hockey. Quince said the support he’s received from Sioux Lookout throughout his career has made it easier for him to follow his dreams no matter where they take him.
“I played minor hockey in Sioux Lookout until I was in grade eight. In grade nine I played high school hockey and also I played for the double-A Paper Kings in Dryden, so I played for both of those teams in grade nine. Then, in grade ten, I moved away to Thunder Bay to play for the Kings… I was 15-years-old when I left so that adjustment was kind of tough, but luckily I had some really nice billets in Thunder Bay. My family and friends were very supportive, and relationships grew everywhere I played, which made it easy for me to keep following what I love to do,” said Quince.
“The support you have coming out of a small town like Sioux Lookout is second-to-none. Whenever you’re home, people are asking you questions and are behind you the whole way. When I was younger it was fun with my buddies. We’d have an outdoor rink in the backyard that my dad would make. Having that small group of friends that would come over, we’d push each other to get better. The small-town-feel really helped me push forward knowing that the support is behind you,” he continued.
Previously, Quince played Junior A hockey for the Cornwall Colts from 2011 to 2015. The 25-year-old then played NCAA hockey for Clarkson University from 2015 to 2019. Throughout his career, Quince said he always cherishes the time he gets to come back to Sioux Lookout, typically around Christmas and early in the summer.
“It’s been a long time where I’ve just been home usually for Christmas and then I’ll come home for a month or two during the summers. It’s always great to come home. I cherish my time in Sioux Lookout, and it always feels way too short when I’m there. When I’m home, I usually come for around ten days at Christmas, and that’s been the same for the last four or five years, and then I try to get home usually around May, June, and July… Now that I’m not in school I can probably stick around for July as well. I love playing hockey away, but I also love being home. Everything that Sioux Lookout has to offer, I feel like you really realize when you leave. When you leave and you’re in a city, like I have been for the last number of years, you look back and think of the closest lake or the closest place to go fishing. Sometimes it’s not close at all and you can’t do a lot outside (in the city), but that’s how I grew up. You cherish being home a lot more because you’ve been in spots where you can’t enjoy those things,” said Quince.
Since heading to southern Ontario to play for the Cornwall Colts, Quince has had many opportunities to share his journey and talk about Sioux Lookout with teammates and coaches, who usually have no clue where Sioux Lookout is.
“They’re usually pretty surprised. Ever since I moved to play junior hockey down in Cornwall, Ontario, so that’s down south, even there a lot of people didn’t have a clue where Sioux Lookout was. I’d say Dryden or Thunder Bay usually and that would ring a bell, but when I really explained to them how far it is they can’t believe it usually and they’re pretty surprised. In hearing that they’re usually pretty interested in how I moved so far to play and how my journey is gone. I was sitting down in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I was playing there earlier this year. I played nine games there, and I was trying to think about how I wound up down in Tennessee playing hockey. People are usually pretty surprised, and they usually want to know what’s in Sioux Lookout and that far north, which gives me an opportunity to tell them all the things Sioux Lookout brings,” said Quince.
Following this season, Quince said he has a couple options for his career. He can remain in the ECHL, with hopes of cracking an AHL roster, or he can relocate even further from home.
“My plan is to just play and put up numbers here in the east coast league (ECHL). I want to try to make it into the AHL (American Hockey League) and play there for a bit. It’s pretty much just see how it goes right now for the rest of this year and, depending how this year goes, I have two avenues. It’s either I stay here and play in the AHL if I make it or I can play over in Europe and expand that way, so I haven’t made up my mind or really thought about it yet. I’m just happy where I am now, and I look forward to finishing the rest of the season here,” he explained.
Quince is one of many Sioux Lookout residents that have left town to pursue higher levels of hockey. When asked what advice he’d give high school and minor hockey players in Sioux Lookout, Quince emphasized working hard and having the courage to leave your comfort zone.
“I would say to stay humble with your game and work hard. I think a lot of players, when they start doing well in Sioux Lookout or in the immediate surrounding area, start thinking that they’re at a level and they’re a little bit better than they are, so I think just keep your head down and working hard is the biggest thing. I’d also say don’t be afraid to take steps. If you feel that you’re ready and have what it takes, I think don’t be afraid to take a step out of your comfort zone because I think that’s something that you have to do when you’re in Sioux Lookout, or you’re far away from the main hockey hubs, to be noticed. You have to be out of your comfort zone a little bit, and it was tough for me when I was so young moving away, and it was tough on my mom and family too, but I think in the long run looking back I’m really happy I made those decisions and that I did it when I did,” he said.
While reflecting on his hockey journey, Quince credited the ongoing support from Sioux Lookout, as well as his Sioux Lookout upbringings, for the success he has achieved so far.
“I would not be where I am today, or even close to where I am today, if I didn’t have support the whole way along. I kind of think of Sioux Lookout as a large family. I get text messages and a lot of support, especially when I was younger and moving away early, and I needed that reinforcement and reassurance that I was doing the right thing. I think that helped me a lot when I was younger, and it still helps me today… Living in Sioux Lookout when I was younger I think has the biggest influence on my hockey through my parents and my brother. My dad always built that rink that a lot of people in Sioux Lookout know about because they’ve been over playing three-on-three hockey, or playing whatever type of hockey. My brother pushed me to always go to the net and battle in the corners and my mom is 58-years-old and still plays, so it’s just a hockey family that I came from. A mixture of all those things really came together and was exactly what I needed. I can’t say enough about that outdoor rink when I was younger because that is really where my skill level came from. I was out there for countless hours,” he concluded.