First Round Playoff Preview!

The NHL playoffs are upon us. 2014 is the first year of the new playoff format that was introduced along with the realignment of divisions. Teams will not be reseeded after each round and instead there is a bracket that will give divisional rounds, the conference finals, and the Stanley Cup Final. The first round of the playoffs is one of my favourite parts of the season, and this year’s first round is poised to be great!

East:

Atlantic:

Boston v. Detroit

The Red Wings have the potential to upset the heavily seeded Bruins the way the early 2000’s-era Montreal Canadiens did. The main reason that won’t happen is the Finnish Wall the Bruins set up in front of their net before the start of each hockey game that goes by the name of Tuukka Rask. Aside from starring for the bronze medal-winning Finnish team earlier this year in Sochi, he is the Vezina Trophy front runner and a safety net should the Bruins have trouble getting the puck past Jimmy Howard. This Bruins team is simply too deep to lose four games to a Detroit team that is not what it used to be.

Prediction: Bruins in five.

Tampa Bay v. Montreal

Steven Stamkos scored at a 55 goal pace when he wasn’t sidelined due to wrapping his leg around a goal post in November. If he can continue that pace he will take some pressure off of Ben Bishop, a major Vezina contender, to match the play of the unflappable Carey Price. Montreal has an interesting mix of players and Tomas Vanek, while in no way Stamkos’s equal in the goal scoring department, is the true game-breaker that the Canadiens have lacked in recent years. The Habs have are never an easy draw, and Vanek and Price will outduel Stamkos and Bishop.

Prediction: Habs in six

Metropolitan:

Pittsburgh v. Columbus

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in the playoffs again for the first time since the 2008-09 season, the only other year they have qualified for the playoffs. They will be aiming for their first playoff win in franchise history on the strength of Ryan Johansen’s 33 goal, breakout season. While Sergei Bobrovsky likely won’t take home the Vezina trophy for a second straight year, he has shown that last year’s Vezina win was no fluke, and he has the ability to outduel Marc-Andre Fleury. While the Penguins are obviously an offensive powerhouse they lack depth, and Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal are amongst the least robust players in the game. It’s not the first round of the NHL playoffs without a major upset; Columbus takes this series in seven for the surprise of the playoffs.

Prediction: Blue Jackets in seven.

NYR v. Philadelphia

This is as exciting a first round matchup as one can hope for, but maybe that’s just because I never know what to expect from the Philadelphia Flyers. Claude Giroux made up for his slow start to finish third in league scoring, and Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek are rugged players that can score. The Martin St. Louis era in New York has gone puzzlingly poorly so far, and even though Henrik Lundqvist is one of the league’s best goalies, the Flyers will do whatever they can to get him off his game. The Flyers are a team built for the playoffs and love to drive other teams crazy. They’ll take it in six.
Prediction: Flyers in six.

West:

Central:

Colorado v. Minnesota

The Colorado Avalanche were the surprise team of the year in Patrick Roy’s first season behind an NHL bench. Semyon Varlamov led the league with 41 wins, and the Avalanche boast an impressive top six forwards led by hard-nosed Gabriel Landeskog. Expect Landeskog to have an impressive playoffs. While a move to Minnesota has worked out well thus far for Ilya Bryzgalov, he’s not exactly the model of consistency. It will be easy for the Avalanche to get to Bryzgalov and take this series.

Prediction: Avalanche in five.

St. Louis v. Chicago

The Blues have been decimated by injuries recently with leaders David Backes, T.J. Oshie, and Alex Pietrangelo out with various ailments. Backes and Oshie should be available for the first round matchup, but they might not be 100%. Despite their depth, the Blues won’t be able to replace players of this caliber to match the Blackhawks, who will have Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews back from their own injuries just in time for the playoffs. This will be a long series and the winner likely won’t make it past the second round. Assuming their stars can dress I think the Blues will be able to take it, but regardless of who wins, I’ll be surprised if this series takes less than seven games to decide a winner.

Prediction: Blues in seven.

Pacific:

Anaheim v. Dallas

The Dallas Stars had the least amount of points of any playoff team, and while they had big years offensively from Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, those players will draw the Ducks best shutdown line every time they’re on the ice. It won’t be a fun first round for Seguin and Benn, but at least it will be short. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry put up excellent years offensively and Teemu Selanne will be looking to go out on a high note.

Prediction: Ducks in four.

San Jose v. Los Angeles

The Sharks are going to be in tough to shake their reputation as perennial playoff underachievers when they take on the Kings, the stingiest team in the regular season. But the Kings have appeared in the last two Western Conference finals, and they sent a bevy of stars to Sochi, most of whom played major roles for their respective countries – fatigue has to be setting in for this team. The Sharks’ desire to lose the playoff failure tag will ultimately make them too strong for a tired Kings team that will be worn down quickly.

Prediction: Sharks in six.

NHL Mock Draft V1.0

Yes, we’re really late to the party once again, but better late than ever! So here is our first NHL Mock Draft! These are my predictions based on my conversations with scouts, hockey players, what I’ve seen myself, and obviously a bit of gut feeling. The order is based on the NHL standings and not anything else because I am not smart enough to figure out who would get what pick. So without further to do, here is our NHL Mock Draft V1.0.

1. Buffalo Sabres – Sam Reinhart – C – Kootenay (WHL)
Everyone can use a big centre right? He’s a great guy to push the rebuild forward.

2. Florida Panthers – Aaron Ekblad – D – Barrie (OHL)
NHL ready defenseman. Can step into the NHL next year. Would make an interesting pairing with Brian Campbell

3. Edmonton Oilers – Sam Bennett – C/LW – Kingston (OHL)
I feel that if the Oilers cannot get Aaron Ekblad, they will try to trade the pick for some defensive help. They have all the talent they want up front, but not much in the back end.

4. Calgary Flames – Michael Dal Colle – LW – Oshawa (OHL)
Has great speed and upside. Just a little far fetched thinking, but the line of Klimchuk, Monahan, and Dal Colle will be something to consider for the future.

5. New York Islanders – Leon Draisaitl – C/LW – Prince Albert (WHL)
Everyone wants a big centre and the Islanders are no different. Has had some comparisons to Jaromir Jagr. Averaging more two points a game in Prince Albert.

6. Vancouver Canucks – Haydn Fleury – D – Red Deer (WHL)
Higher than most people expected, but the Canucks need some good young defenders now.

7. Carolina Hurricanes – Nick Ritchie – RW – Peterborough (OHL)
The top five picks are pretty much consensus, but after that it’s a free for all. I have Ritchie up rather high not due to his skill, but team need. The RW shelves are pretty bare for the Hurricanes.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs – Jake Virtanen – C/LW – Calgary (WHL)
The Leafs need help down the middle and Virtanen could provide good depth and power down there.

9. Winnipeg Jets – William Nylander – C/LW – Sodertalje (SWE)

10. Anaheim Ducks (From Ottawa) – Alex Tuch – C/RW – USANTDP
It’s a shame eh? Ottawa could have used a guy like Tuch.

11. Nashville Predators – Roland McKeown – D – Kingston (OHL)

12. Phoenix Coyotes – Jared McCann – C – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Big 2-way center. Needs to make sure he continues to play defensively.

13. Washington Capitals – Brendan Perlini – LW – Niagra (OHL)

14. Dallas Stars – Nikolaj Ehlers – LW – Halifax (QMJHL)

15. Detroit Red Wings – Julius Honka – D – Swift Current (WHL)
They have all the talent in the world upfront with Nyqvist, Jurco, and Mantha. Could use a bit more help defensively in the future. He would make an interesting defensive pair with DeKeyser.

16. Columbus Blue Jackets – Ivan Barbashev – LW – Moncton (QMJHL)

17. Philadelphia Flyers – Kasperi Kapanen – LW – KalPa (FIN)

18. New York Rangers – Dylan Larkin – LW – USNTDP
I have a gut feeling that the Rangers may trade the pick and get a defenseman instead, but it’s impossible to assess the likelihood of trades. So I’m going with Dylan Larkin here. The best LW the Rangers have in the system is currently Pavel Buchnevic who isn’t expected to ever join North America.

19. Minnesota Wild – Thatcher Demko – G – Boston College (H-East)

20. LA Kings – Sonny Milano – LW – USNTDP
Good LW. Will need a lot of time to develop. Currently committed to Bosotn College. Lots of speed, great hands. Reminds me of Mike Richards
21. Montreal Canadiens – Nikolay Goldobin – RW – Sarnia (OHL)

22. Tampa Bay Lightning – Josh Ho-Sang – C/RW – Windsor (OHL)

23. Chicago Blackhawks – David Pastrnak – LW/RW – Sodertalje SK (SWE)

24. Pittsburgh Penguins – Adrian Kempe – C – MoDo U-20 (SWE)

25. San Jose Sharks – Anton Karlsson – RW – Frolunda Jr (SWE-JR)
Quick feet, has a scoring touch. I wonder what he’d be like playing with Logan Couture?

26. St. Louis Blues – Brendan Lemieux – LW – Barrie (OHL)

27. Colorado Avalanche – Kevin Fiala – RW – HV71 J20 (SWE)

28. Anaheim Ducks – Robby Fabri – C/LW – Guelph (OHL)

29. Boston Bruins – Ryan MacInnis – C – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Yes, he’s the son of HOF’er Al MacInnis. Good centre, will need time to develop.

30. New Jersey Devils – Markus Pettersson – D – Skelleftea Jr. (SWE)
Could use another defenseman in the system. Will take a bit longer to develop, but will be a serviceable defenseman in the future.

 

Final thoughts: This draft is not as deep as last year’s draft, but there are still many good players available. Many of them will need time to develop, but many of them will be serviceable defenseman.

Thoughts? Let us know below! You can follow us on Twitter: @hkyblogger or you can “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/notyouraveragehockeyblog

Interview With Alexandre Belanger!

Photocreds: Twitter.com/30_Belly

Photocreds: Twitter.com/30_Belly

We recently caught up with Alexandre Belanger of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL and Minnesota Wild. He was drafted in the 2013 NHL Draft in the 7th Round 200th Overall. Unlike most players who get drafted at 18, Alexandre was drafted at 17! He is a great follow on Twitter so make sure to follow him on Twitter: @30_Belly. Make sure to follow me on Twitter as well: @hkyblogger. Without further ado, here is our interview with Alexandre Belanger!

We are in bold.

How do you spend your off days?
I don’t do much during the season, since there isn’t much time for rest so normally I try to relax and play video games with some friends, watch movies or TV shows, or just chill out with my teammates.

Do you have any pre-game rituals you like to follow?
Not really. I like to switch things up. For example, if one game the things I’ve done worked then maybe the next game it won’t because it worked the game before. So yes of course I have a little routine but no rituals.

What type of goalie do you consider yourself?
I consider myself has a calm goalie with good positioning and a sharp gloves. I also have good technique and athleticism.

What goalie do you think you play most similar to?
A lot of people compare myself to Carey Price! Both of us are calm, have a good glove and play with good technique.

Have you played any other position?
When I started to play hockey I was a forward. I liked to score goals and had a very good shot but my skating ability was terrible haha ! After playing forward for 3 or 4 years,I loved goalies and wanted to try this position and I felt in love with it. So I started to be a goalie at the age of 8 years old!

You were drafted 200th Overall. Were you scared of not getting drafted?
I had no expectations when I went to the draft because I knew it was very hard to get drafted as a 17 year goalie. But still in the back of my mind I really wanted to get pick by a team because it was my dream since I was a little kid. So yes I was getting scared a bit at the end.

Have you ever been challenged to a fight before?
No I’ve never been challenged to a fight before!

Who has the best shot in the QMJHL?
Last year I would say that Martin Frk from Halifax had one of the best shot in the league! This year it’s hard to say! Maybe Francis Beauvillier on my team. I hate it when he shoots against me in practice haha.

Highlight of your career?
I have a few highlights in my career so far! The Canada Games in Halifax was awesome! I was on Team Quebec U-16 and I won a silver medal. The QMJHL draft where I was drafted in the 1st Round, 18th Overall, the World Under 17 championship in Windsor, Ontario, the NHL draft where I was drafted in the 7th Round, 200th Overall, and the Minnesota Wild pro camp.

Lowlight?
I don’t really have lowlights. Of course I had some trouble here and there but not much.

What’s it like to take a puck off the mask?
It’s never fun, but in my opinion it doesn’t hurt most of the time the puck usually deflects in the corner. The worst is to get the puck in the cage. Sometimes it breaks your cage and it hurts because the puck doesn’t deflect and your head gets all the power of the shot.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
Hard to say… I love to sing! I sing songs everywhere; in the shower, in the car, in my head. But the thing is, I’m not a very good singer! I just love music.

There are players out there in the same position as you were last year in the chance that they wouldn’t be drafted. If you could give them some advice, what would it be?
Just believe in yourself even if you don’t get drafted. If you work hard, good things will happen.

Thank you for your time.

Interview With Dennis MacInnis of ISS Hockey!

DennisMacInnis

We recently caught up with Dennis MacInnis of ISS Hockey. Dennis is currently the Director of Scouting of ISS Hockey. ISS Hockey is the world leader in independent scouting and information services on hockey prospects. It’s clients include NHL teams, Hockey Canada, and TSN. Dennis is considered one of the world’s top scouts and has been featured on websites such as CBS New York. If you want to see more of Dennis’ work, make sure to log on to http://www.isshockey.com/ and read more!

If you want to see more of our work, make sure to share, and “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog or you can alternatively follow me on Twitter: @HkyBlogger!

As per usual, we are in bold.

Editor’s note: This is more of an unusual interview; even from our point of view. We wanted the reader to learn about top prospects in this year’s draft, but still get a chance to learn about drafting and scouting in general. We hope you like it either way! We also decided to take tweets from the ISS Hockey account to make sure you could have a brief scouting report on each player!

Who has the biggest upside in this year’s draft?
Aaron Ekblad. He is a stud best defenseman available by a wide margin.
Aaron Ekblad

In 2012, Mark Jankowski was picked by Calgary Flames with the 21st pick. He was not expected to get drafted at such a high pick. Is there anyone you think may be listed a bit lower, but may be picked higher than expected?
Kevin Fiala. He is a Swiss speedster currently playing in Sweden. He has been steadily moving up rankings since November. Fiala is currently ranked #32. He also played on Team Switzerland at the 2014 World Junior Championships and led the team in scoring. He is a highly skilled, crafty offensive player with very good play-making ability that makes those around him better.

Who is the highest risk-highest reward player available?
Tony DeAngelo & Joshua Ho-Sang
Josh Ho Sang

Tony DeAngelo

Who is the sleeper pick in this year’s draft?
Dylan Larkin. He is better than people think. He has excellent leadership ability!
Dylan Larkin

Editor’s note: We also did an interview with Dylan Larkin! You can check it out here: http://notyouraveragehockeyblog.com/2014/02/04/interview-with-dylan-larkin/

Of the top picks available this year, who do you think would benefit from some seasoning?
Sam Bennett. He will need time to add size & strength.

Sam Bennet

Of the goalies available this year, who do you think is the most NHL ready?
Thatcher Demko. He is mature and already pro size. He graduated a year early from high school to attend university a year early for Boston College.
Thatcher Demko

Which prospect available this year is the most NHL ready?
Aaron Ekblad would be most NHL ready.

Are teams scared to draft Russians because of the KHL threat?
Yes, but that will not stop teams from drafting Russian players.

What goes on during the “psychological testing”? What kinds of questions are asked?
Teams are trying to get feel for kids character/personality traits/maturity/interests/likes/dislikes etc etc. One regular question is “If you won million dollars what would be the 1st thing you do?” A good answer would be to look after their parents & a bad answer would be to buy Mustang car with 500 horsepower.

Why is psychological testing and interviews such an important part of scouting?
Its very important because of the amount of money and time teams are looking to invest in each kid they draft. Teams use these test to try and determine the core components of a person’s psychological problems, learning disabilities, personality, IQ, or some other components. It is also a process that helps identify not just weaknesses of a person, but also their strengths.

You often hear the term “intangibles” used often. What are intangibles?

They are the little things a player brings to the game to help their teams win – Such as work ethic, hits, blocked shots, giveaways, takeaways, etc.


Thank you for your time!

Photo used with permission.

Bruins Versus Blues Would be Dream Finals Matchup

The Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues seem to be separating themselves from the rest of the NHL recently, so much so that I’m betting on them meeting to square off for the 2014 Stanley Cup. The Bruins have won 12 in a row while St. Louis is 7-2-1 in their last ten games, with a shutout over Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. With about ten games remaining in the season Boston and St. Louis are poised to finish the regular season strongly, and while it may not seem like a bold prediction to bet on the top team from each conference meeting in the Stanley Cup Finals, such a scenario has not happened since New Jersey and Colorado met in the Finals in 2001. What makes me think this year will be different from most others and the Bruins and Blues will carry their regular season success through the end of the season and into the playoffs? The answer is that both teams are amongst the deepest and most balanced teams the league has seen in some time.

The Blues were considered a favourite to contend heading into this season and have lived up to expectations. The young team has been on the cusp of entering the league’s perennially elite for a couple of years, and a deep playoff run will cinch their status in that regard. While the goaltending tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott was certainly more than adequate throughout the year – Elliott was in net today to shutout the Penguins – upgrading Halak to Ryan Miller just before the trade deadline has assured that the team has no cracks. On defense, head coach Ken Hitchcock has an arsenal of talent for any situation at his disposal. Recent gold medal winners Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester are supremely skilled and log a lot of minutes, and Barrett Jackman is a proven leader who is difficult to play against. In fact, the Blues don’t have any easy defensemen to play against – Kevin Shattenkirk is the smallest of the lot, but at 5’11” and 207 lbs he is no pushover.

Up front, the Blues epitomize the new NHL – a team that lacks a designated offensive dynamo and instead relies on an offense by committee. Ken Hitchcock is known for getting players to buy into a system that relies on responsible forwards that worry about keeping the puck out of their net before putting in the opposition’s. A surprise 30-goal season from Alex Steen and a sophomore jump from Jaden Schwartz has made this an offense that could afford the departures of Chris Stewart via trade and Vladimir Tarasenko due to injury. But when the playoffs roll around the experience of veteran agitators Brenden Morrow, Steve Ott, and Max Lapierre will make a big difference for this team. Morrow and Lapierre have each reached the Finals in their careers, and Morrow was part of the gold medal winning Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics. Playing against these guys for four to seven games will definitely take its toll on opposing forwards. And in case things get rough, Ryan Reaves is the team enforcer in charge of keeping opposing forwards in line, but he’s a modern NHL enforcer, one that doesn’t hurt his team if he steps on the ice and doesn’t drop his gloves.

While the Bruins are similarly strong from the net to the fourth line, they are a much more experienced team than the Blues, having reached the Stanley Cup Finals two of the last three years. In fact, the biggest obstacle between the Bruins and the Stanley Cup Finals may be the fatigue resulting from their recent success. In addition to last year’s Finals visit, many of the Bruins’ star players didn’t get a break during the Olympics this year – Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson, and Tuukka Rask all medaled at the Games, while Zdeno Chara and David Krejci played major roles for Slovakia and the Czech Republic, respectively.

But only time will tell how much of a role fatigue will play against the B’s. Right now they are rolling along comfortably. Only two of the wins during their twelve game streak have been decided by less than two goals. Jarome Iginla is using this year to postpone an offensive decline, while Carl Soderberg has emerged as an underrated third liner that the league will likely take greater note of if the B’s go on an extended run this post season. While the importance of fisticuffs is greatly diminished in the playoffs, the Bruins have more grit than any team in the league, and it doesn’t hurt that they have three legitimate heavyweights – Chara, Milan Lucic, and Shawn Thornton – that draw regular shifts.

The teams played twice already this season, and both games required extra time, the Blues winning 3-2 in each case. Ultimately, the Bruins and Blues are successful because they have rosters of smart players that minimize mistakes, and play the type of risk averse hockey that wins games. When opposing forwards do break free they have the unenviable challenge of putting the puck behind two of the best goalies in the league in Miller and Rask. They have the luxury of rolling four strong lines, and that is the only way teams can make deep runs in the playoffs in the NHL these days. If the Bruins and Blues do face off in June it will be the first meeting between the two teams since 1970 when Bobby Orr scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in overtime before flying through the air in celebration in one of the NHL’s most famous photos. While a meeting this time around would likely be much tighter than the four game sweep in 1970, it would likely be every bit as classic.

Let’s Meet Cody Bass!

Photocreds: https://twitter.com/cbass2632
Used with permission.


We recently caught up with Cody Bass of the Springfield Falcons. He’s a high energy forward who can “bring some emotion to the ice”, but I’ll let him explain it. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 NHL Draft to the Ottawa Senators. He’s only played one NHL game this season, but he’s already had his first NHL fight of the season as well! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtcFsh2xVZI (stick tap to HockeyFights.com for that one.) Make sure to follow him on Twitter as well @cbass2632. Follow us on Twitter: @HkyBlogger, and “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog. Without further to do, we are proud to release our interview with Cody Bass.

Editor’s note: Make sure to read the last question. His response really makes you think. I didn’t expect such an emotional answer, and I’m glad he chose to answer with such emotion.

As per usual, we are in bold.

What’s a day in the life of Cody Bass?
Haha well my days are usually not too exciting, I basically wake up, practice, lunch, walk my dogs (which are crazy so its not that easy) relax or run errands with my girlfriend, dinner and walk the dogs.. The dogs consume most of my girlfriend’s and my time. Game days are also a bit different as well.

Before you were drafted, you won a silver medal in the 2005 IIHF U18 World Championship. Where is the silver medal now? Do you wear it every now and then?
My silver medal is at my mom’s house where she keeps all my hockey stuff in a room. It actually might be frame with my jersey so no, I don’t know where it is.

What kind of player do you consider yourself?
I like to consider myself as a hard working energy type player. i like to play a physical game an bring some emotion to the ice.

You’ve been in a fair share of fights. What kind of rationale do you have to getting punched in the face repeatedly?
Fighting is part of the game. Its an aspect of the game that I bring. I play with a lot of passion and emotion so its something that I do. Do i enjoy it? Well does anyone enjoy getting punched in the face? No, but again its part of the energy that I bring to my team. Its part of my job.

You were drafted in the fourth round in the 2005 Draft. Tell us about it. What was it like? Where were you, who did you hug first?
Getting drafted to Ottawa was an exciting day for me and my family. I was at home watching the draft with my family on TV. Once I saw my name I was excited and gave my mom who has been my biggest supporter a big hug. Getting drafted by a Canadian team was also the cherry on top.

What is it like getting called up? Take us through it?
Well I have been playing pro for 7 years now and my goal is still to play in the NHL. Anytime you get called up its super exciting. To be given the opportunity to play in the NHL is always amazing and I’m grateful for every opportunity I get.

What’s the biggest difference between playing in the AHL and he NHL?
The AHL is almost harder to play in than the NHL. You actually have less time and space in the AHL. Its basically a swarm of bumble bees flying around at a million miles per hour trying to hit each other. Everyone in the AHL has something to prove and at the end of the day everyone’s goal is to play in the NHL so guys have something to prove. The NHL is more controlled. Guys are not so much faster but they move the puck faster which increases the speed of the game. Everyone plays with control and respect in the NHL which makes the game almost easier at times. Crazy I know.

What is your biggest strength and what is your biggest weakness?
Strengths and weakness? Well I feel I’m a great skater and play an honest gritty game. I consider myself a smart hockey player… I probably lack in offensive instincts but also that’s not the type of game I play.

The next part is more of a rapid fire round. It’s wear fans learn more about you as a person and not just as a hockey player. Ready?
Biggest fear?

Failing

Favourite TV show?
Sons of Anarchy

Coolest place in Springfield to hang out at?
Max burger or Costco haha.

Weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you to sign?
I have never signed anything weird.

Do you get noticed on the street often?
Not too often.

Final questions:
Who should we interview next?

Interview Mike McKenna (he’s a character and ask him about a dog named piper in the dressing room)

We interviewed your teammate Sean Collins a while back, any secrets or funny stories about him?
Haha Sean is a good guy I won’t embarrass him.

Advice for aspiring hockey players?
My advice for young hockey players is that hockey is just a game. Life does not end with hockey. With the tragic event of Terry Trafford, I hope every kid just lives their life to be happy. Being happy is the key to life. I wish that every kid who wants to play hockey for a living will go to school and get an education. Use hockey for a scholarship. Go experience life and enjoy what life has to offer you. Pro hockey will always be there. Don’t make sudden irrational decisions. Love the people who are closest to you. Respect everyone and don’t judge a book by its cover. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone needs someone to talk to once in a while. Work hard at everything you do and good things will come.

Thank you for your time.
Thanks

Interview with Brendan Woods!

We recently caught up with Charlotte Checkers’ forward Brendan Woods. He was drafted in the 5th Round (129th Overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft. He decided to play for the University of Wisconsin for two years after juniors. He’s a great guy and he’s an even better Twitter follow so make sure to follow Brendan on Twitter @SkeeterWoods21, and make sure to like us on Facebook and follow me on Twitter: @HkyBlogger and https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog. Without further to do, here is our interview with Charlotte Checkers forward Brendan Woods.

As per usual, we are in bold.

What type of player do you consider yourself?
I guess I’d consider myself as a power forward, a guy who tries to create energy every shift, whether it’s a big hit or driving hard to the net to get a greasy goal, or if need be to drop the gloves for a teammate.

So you’ve been in a few fights, how do you justify getting hit in the head repeatedly?
Yeah I haven’t been into too many so I haven’t been hit too many times in the face but when it happens you don’t necessarily feel it until after the fight because of the adrenaline.

You’re from Canada, but you decided to play junior hockey in the USHL and not CHL like many other Canadians. Why did you choose that route instead?
Yes I was born in Canada but I’ve have lived most of my whole life all over the states. So for me it was an easy decision to pick the USHL over CHL because it gives me more options for my future. You can only play hockey for so long and with the USHL it gave me a chance to go to a Grade A college; Wisconsin to play great hockey and also get a great education to fall back on after I was done playing.

You were drafted in the 5th Round by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2012, where were you when you found you were drafted and what was running through your head when it all happened?
I was in bed in my apartment, and I got a phone call from one of my teammates at the time, Mark Zengerle letting me know that I was drafted. At first, I thought he was talking about being drafted into something we had going on at our local bar on campus called the Kollege Klub, but then he goes ” No man, Carolina Hurricanes drafted you into the NHL!” so I was a little blindsided by it at first because I hadn’t spoken to any teams throughout that previous season, but at the same breathe I was on Cloud 9. Its every kid’s dream to get drafted in the NHL and it was surreal for me.

You scored your first professional goal this year. Where is the puck?
It is currently sitting on my Xbox in my room right now haha.

What has been the highlight of career?
I’ve had a few highlights; one would have to be playing overseas for my country in a tournament with a lot of star players, such as Justin Faulk, Nick Bjugstad, and Derek Forbort. Another was winning our league championship last year with Wisconsin and playing outdoors as well in Soldier Field, and obviously being drafted in the NHL and play my first game professionally was pretty cool!

Lowlight?
My biggest lowlight in my career was when I broke my femur and dislocated my knee in the fall classic my first year of junior, and being told by doctors my playing career could be over.

The next part is more of a rapid fire round, it’s where the reader gets to really know you.
Your dad played professional hockey. Any tricks you learnt from him?
I don’t know what you mean by tricks but he has helped me tremendously through a lot of obstacles every player goes through just from his past from when he played.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve seen on the ice?
Thankfully I haven’t seen anything too scary while I was playing but just the other night seeing Rich Perverley go down on the bench might have been the scariest for me.

Who’s your celebrity crush?
Haha my celebrity crush……hmmm I have a few. My top 5 are Minka Kelly, Jennifer Aniston, Blake Lively, Julianne Hough, and Selena Gomez.

Who’s the roomie on the road?
My roomie on the road is Victor Rask, who is from Sweden….. Great guy and is single for all the ladies wondering hah.

Every team does pranks, and I’m sure that the Charlotte Checkers are no different. What’s the best prank you’ve seen or been a part of?
There’s always the usual shoe checks at the odd dinner, but I did get Chris Terry on a phone call break that was a recording that would call any number you put in and it was a recording of a guy asking him why he was calling his girlfriend. At first, I didn’t think I got him, but the next day the guys told me he was describing it to all of them at the back of the bus and saying how nervous he was not knowing who this random guy was confronting him of something he didn’t do. So we all got a few laughs out of that.

Your Twitter username is @SkeeterWoods21. What’s the story behind it?
Every freshman at school gets what they call Gomer Names selected by the seniors so that’s what i was given and it stuck and for some reason I decided to use that as my twitter account.

How do you spend your off days?
For the most part my days off are pretty low key, I just like to lay low and sit on the couch and watch TV. give the body a rest, maybe a hot tub at night is always a good choice.

Final questions:
Advice for aspiring hockey players?
Advice id give to kids would be do always have fun when you’re out there and to never take it for granted because you never really know when the last time you’ll be able to play the game.

Thank you for your time.