France’s Ligue Magnus gets a good number of players each year from Canada. Most of the time they are from Quebec and have played junior hockey in the QMJHL. However, typically each year there is at least one of two Ontario Hockey League grads in the Ligue Magnus. Wes Cunningham is the latest OHL alumnus to make the move and will play on the country’s most successful team, Dragons de Rouen, for the 2014-15 season.
Cunningham played five years in the OHL from 2003-04 to 2007-08 with the Owen Sound Attack, Belleville Bulls and Plymouth Whalers. The Attack selected him in the second round of the 2003 OHL Priority Selection, 23rd overall. Wes was traded to the Bulls 24 games into the 2004-05 season and was traded to the Whalers 16 games into the 2005-06 season. Over his OHL career, Cunningham played 293 regular season games, scoring 15 goals and assisting on 108 for 123 points. He played an additional 45 Robertson Cup playoff games, adding 16 points.
The 2006-07 Whalers brought Cunningham a Robertson Cup championship and a coveted trip to the Memorial Cup tournament. Plymouth placed second overall in the OHL during the regular season with 103 points, just one behind the London Knights. The Knights and Whalers met in the Western Conference final and Plymouth came out on top in five games.
The Whalers then beat the Sudbury Wolves in the finals for the championship with the series going six games. The 2007 Memorial Cup tournament was held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Plymouth fell in the semi-final to the host Vancouver Giants by a score of 8-1.
Undrafted to the National Hockey League, Cunningham has played pro hockey since 2008-09 in the ECHL, AHL and Norway’s Get Ligaen. In 2010-11, Wes starred with the Greenville Road Warriors in the franchise’s first year in the ECHL. He totalled 43 points from the blue line over 69 regular season games and was named and First Team All-Star defenseman.
In 2013-14, Cunningham played exclusively for the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL. over 57 regular season games, Wes contributed 26 points while wearing the ‘A’ on his jersey. He played 16 games in the playoffs as the Condors reached the Western Conference finals before falling in six to the Alaska Aces. The Aces went on to win the Kelly Cup championship.
Wes Cunningham is signed with Dragons de Rouen for the 2014-15 season.
Dragons de Rouen
AKA Rouen Hockey Elite 76, the franchise started operations for the 1982-83 season. Since 1989-90, Rouen has won the Ligue Magnus playoff championship and amazing 13 times. Between 2009-10 and 2012-13, the team won four straight titles. In 2013-14, Rouen placed first overall in the 14 team Ligue Magnus over the 26 game regular season schedule. The Dragons reached the the semi-finals before bowing out.
The Dragons play home games at L’Ile Lacroix in Rouen, France, a 2,747 seat venue that opened in 1992. Rouen is located in northwest France on the River Seine, just inland from the English Channel. The city has a population of 111,000 with the metro area housing 650,000 souls. Ironically, it is the birthplace of Edward IV, King of England. Edward was born in 1442 – long before there were Dragons in town.