As a kid growing up, did you have any favorite players?
I had a couple of favorite players. I was a big fan of Joe Sakic, Mike Modano, and Joe Thornton. Pavel Datsyuk more recently. I like watching him.
Did you have a favorite team growing up?
I grew up watching the Leafs every Saturday night unless I stayed up to watch the late game but I wouldn’t say I’m a Leafs fan. I don’t have a favorite team. I liked the Avalanche and the Wings, but I never had a favorite team.
I’m sure your goal has always been to play in the NHL but at what point did you realize it’s a possibility?
I guess you always hope it’s a possibility. Growing up you think you’ll definitely make it but around 16, 17, it turns into a pipe dream. When I was 20 and playing in Oakville, I had a good season and my coach started talking to me, telling me there were some NHL level scouts talking to him about me. At that point, I realized that if I put some good seasons together and improve, I might have a shot
Upon getting interest from scouts, do you have any team you’d especially like to be on?
As a college free agent, you get the luxury of choosing the best fit. For myself, whenever it’s time, whatever the best situation for me to play, no matter what city or whereabouts, it’s about the fit.
We non-athletes complain about schoolwork. How do you get it all done between traveling and practice?
Sticking together and working with you friends helps a lot. I’m in some courses by myself now and the workload is a lot tougher when you don’t have guys to share it with. We try to stick together to help out. The teachers are more willing to give extensions or change the workload. Early in the week, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, I really have to do a lot of work. From the time I wake up, it’s school, class, then hockey. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, you don’t really get to do any work. The 3-class semester here is a big thing. Other D1 athletes at other school where they have to take 5 classes, that has got to be even tougher.
What made you choose Union?
When I was making my decision, there were some other big hockey schools, but as I matured, I was able to look at the big picture. The education here is top notch. We’re ranked near the top 25. The education is something that is really important for the next 40 years of my life and the program has turned into an elite program. When I got here, we were kind of on the verge but I believed in the coaching staff and the program here and I really believed we were going to move into the upper elite teams in the ECAC and I think we have moved up in the county. The campus was also a selling point, seeing how beautiful it is. Nice people, everyone was easy going. It’s a nice vibe here.
You did not always play the style of hockey you do now. What made you change?
My ultimate goal has been to be a good pro hockey player. College hockey is time for development. In junior hockey, I was never too physical. I didn’t play the body too much. I was more of the playmaking center guy; get it into the zone and set it up. My freshman year, just to get into the line-up, I had to fore-check and finish hit. Coach Leaman wanted me to bang bodies so that’s what I did. Even now, it’s an important part of how the team plays. As a bigger guy, I understand. Coach Bennett has worked with me a lot. I have to use my size to my advantage to get to the next level. There are a lot of skilled guys and I don’t think I have high, high-end skill so I need to supplement that by using my size and being a power forward.
How do you explain the success of the power play?
It’s no secret, we have a couple plays, I’m sure other teams know them by now. We know where we’re supposed to be but a lot of our goals just kind of happen on breakdown situations. We have guys who are smart enough to read, guys who are smart enough to find the open spots. Coach Beale has done a really good job of working with us [on the power play]. In the end, if you put 5 good, talented guys on the ice, you’re going to have success. We’re hungry enough to go to the front of the net and do the things we need to do.
Do you have a specific pregame ritual?
I’ve loosened up a lot. My freshman year, I was pretty intense on the pregame rituals. We always eat around the same time and on the road, we’ll go back to the hotel and take a nap, 20 minutes, an hour, whatever you can get. Wake up, shower, and head up to the rink. We have a lot of small, little rituals at the rink between guys. When guys are getting dressed, they get dressed a certain way. Certain songs will go on, guys might have a quickly, little dance they want to do. Troy gets dressed before I get done warming up. He’s up and getting focused. We do a lot of team things, so everyone is involved together.
Would you say that Troy has been the biggest surprise on the team?
I wouldn’t say Troy is a surprise. I said this during media day at the start of the year. He was with us last year, he practiced, he worked his tail off every day and we knew he was good. We had Corey Milan, a top end goalie, and Keith, obviously [a top end goalie]. It’s pretty tough when you’re behind them. He knew he wasn’t going to be getting in but he worked his tail off. We had full confidence in him. He was a big recruit when he came in from the USHL. We’re not surprised in him at all. First in the country in all statistical categories might be a surprise. We’re definitely happy for him.
Do you hear chirps from the crowd and does the crowd have an effect on the game?
We don’t hear the chirps too much; those are more of one or two guys yelling unless there is a stopping in the play and the crowd echoes. The crowd is a huge part of our home-ice advantage. We hear the chants get going and definitely when there is a lul in the game, the fans get into it with a let’s go U. It definitely gets us pumped up. The goal song is pretty neat too. All the guys really like that.
What are the chirps like on the ice?
No one gets too personal. College hockey is pretty low key with the chirping since there is no fighting. Junior hockey used to have some good battles going on but college hockey is pretty easy on the chirps.
What was your highest moment at Union?
Fenway was a pretty neat experience. It wasn’t the same as winning the Cleary cup. We were just trying to soak it up at Fenway and it was a neat experience. Definitely, my best experience was the Cleary cup win and the run we went on last year, post Christmas, and getting the automatic bid for the first time, going to the tournament. That was a really neat experience, being the first team from Union to do that. Everyone who supports the program was really excited. There was a lot of hype about it. That was special. We had a special team. Looking towards Friday and this weekend, we’re excited to take that up a level. We’re looking to improve on that one cup.
Do any goals stand out in your mind?
I can remember scoring against Quinnipiac in that overtime playoff series in the Sunday game we clinched. I think it was the game winner in the third period. A rebound went up in the air and the net was there, I drove the net and tapped it in. That was probably the most excited I’ve been to score a goal.
I notice you’re not one to celebrate too much when you score a goal like some other guys. Why is that?
My mom always said she doesn’t like the hot dogs. The old motto is “act like you’ve scored before.” Sometimes when you see the other team fist pumping after they score it gives you a bit more motivation to beat them because you realize this game means a lot to them. Sometimes it gives the opponents a bit more if you act like you expect to score and expect to win.
If you have a day off with nothing to do, what would you like to be doing?
Now-a-days, during the winter, I’ll just hit the couch and watch some movies and some TV with the guys. Usually we don’t get a lot of that during the week. In the fall or the spring, I like to get out and get outside.
Wildcard: Least favorite candy bar and favorite holiday?
I’d be harder pressed to find my favorite candy bar. My favorite would be Kit-Kat, Oh Henry, or Aero bars. Christmas is always nice. In juniors you always get to go home for a couple of days so that’s awesome.
Thanks to Jeremy for taking time to hang out and answer some questions. Are there any other people you'd like to hear interviewed? Hopefully, I'll get a few more of these before the season ends. Stay tuned, we may have a series of interviews coming up soon. FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED!