When Braden Holtby and Dany Sabourin went down with knee injuries at the same time, Bears fans had to say hello to a new goalie duo. Among the call-ups was RIT alum and winner of the 2010 NCAA East Region Most Outstanding Player award, Jared DeMichiel. Last Friday, he earned his first AHL career win against the Providence Bruins, stopping 28 of 31 shots. In between Hershey’s current stretch of road games, I got to talk to DeMichiel about life in South Carolina, his season so far, and whether those tweets between him and Andrew Gordon are starting a competition. Unfortunately, it was announced today the DeMichiel was sent back down to South Carolina. We hope reading our hard-hitting interview with him will help ease the pain of missing him.
Q.First of all, congratulations on getting through the first half of your very first professional season! What has it been like transitioning from college hockey to ECHL hockey?
A. Thank you! The transition from college to pro has gone pretty well. At the beginning of the year I faced some growing pains, but that was to be expected. On the ice the game is a little different as professional players think the game well and they do a good job of capitalizing on their chances. Off the ice was probably the biggest challenge for me as I was very comfortable at RIT; I had a lot of close relationships with teammates, friends, and coaches. It was tough being away from those I had become accustomed to, however I have created new relationships in the pro game. For the first few months of being a professional I had to start all new connections with my teammates and coaches. After getting to know everyone it made transitioning to the daily lifestyle easier. I am really enjoying the experience of being a professional hockey player and I hope to play for years to come!
Q.In Hershey, we don’t get a lot of news out of South Carolina other than the game recaps. What has it been like playing in North Charleston?
A. South Carolina is definitely one of the best places to play in the ECHL. There is a ton of history with the Stingrays in Charleston so it’s an honor to be apart of the organization. The team is expected to win and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The fans in Charleston are very enthusiastic about the Stingrays and supportive of the team every game. Off the ice the city of Charleston has a ton of history and great spots to eat so on our days off its easy to get out of the apartment and see what Charleston as to offer. South Carolina is a great spot for young players to develop into solid professionals.
Q.When you’re not playing, what do you do with your free time in South Carolina?
A.In my free time I usually go to the gym with Dustin Stevenson or Jordan Pietrus. Dustin and I like to check out different restaurants downtown too as we both like to eat! The Stingrays organization does a great job setting up player appearances on days off so usually we will do an appearance every week or so at a school, hospital, or season ticket holder function. Lastly, the weather in Charleston is pretty nice so there’s always the option to go golfing or check out the beach on days off. Getting in your GYM, TAN, and LAUNDRY in Charleston is pretty easy! I think “the situation” should check it out!
Q. Tell us about Todd Ford. What has it been like playing with him this season?
A. Todd is a great teammate and an awesome goalie. He’s a quiet guy, but he’s been around the block in the pro game so he knows how to handle the daily rigors of being a pro. The way he plays and handles himself off the ice has shown me the way a pro hockey player should act.
Q. The goalie situation this season has just been a constant shuffle. Is it difficult adjusting with so many call-ups and injuries from all the teams in the organization?
A. Call ups and injuries are part of what happens throughout the season. I signed with Hershey because I knew there would be a chance to play at both the ECHL and AHL levels to gain some valuable experience. Players shuffling around happens every year and all you can do is play to the best of your abilities and hope for the best.
Q. Over the summer, you told me about your plans to see the Hershey sights. With a few days off between games, have you found time to visit Chocolate World yet?
A. I hate to disappoint you, but I have yet to find time to visit Chocolate World. David de Kastrozza and I are roommates at the hotel in Hershey, but both of us left our cars down in Charleston so we don’t get out much on days off haha Hopefully one of these days we will make it to Chocolate World!
Q. Obviously, you had a lot of themes to choose from: How did you decide on the design for your mask this year?
A. Well I know Varly and Neuvy did split Hershey/Washington masks their first years as a pro so I thought doing a split Hershey/South Carolina mask would be a good idea. A lot of fans contacted me with different ideas of what to do with my mask and I took their input into consideration. I decided on the Hershey All-Star logo because I wanted to pay respect to this event and I thought the logo looked pretty legit! On the South Carolina side I knew I wanted to have the bridges in Charleston with a Superman logo because the bridges are a local landmark and I have had Superman logos on my helmets since I was a teenager. I have a little thing for Superman, I don’t know what it is. Some people tell me I need to grow up, but I’m a kid at heart!
Q. Braden Holtby’s superstitions are pretty well-documented. Do you have any eccentric pre-game rituals that you’d feel comfortable telling us about?
A. Holts definitely has a unique flare to his pre-game rituals! I’m pretty easy going. Nothing too crazy as I follow a routine on every game day, but its not overly strict. I always tape and wax my stick then play some soccer with the boys. I’ll ride the bike and do a dynamic warm up. I do like to bump to techno music before games. I have a couple DJ Pauly D mixes that I got off his website that are pretty sick! I get dressed left to right and a few minutes before warm ups I’ll do some stretching on the bench or in the tunnel leading to the ice to get a sense of the arena and focus on the game.
Q. You and Andrew Gordon have been exchanging twitter chirps lately. Is there going to be some kind of throwdown in the weight room between you two?
A.Gordo does not want a piece of me in the weight room cause he knows I can bench press a Buick! Just kidding! Gordo is a great guy and an unreal hockey player. We are just having fun on twitter and we hope everyone finds it as amusing as us!