There have been an increasing number of talented Californians making waves north of the border in the WHL in recent years. From the likes of Ryan Hollweg with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Mitch Wahl with the Spokane Chiefs, Drayson Bowman from Spokane and most recently the WHL goal scoring leader Emerson Etem with the Medicine Hat Tigers. The state of California is producing some of the top talent in the WHL.
The NHL has had 27 players born in California who have gone on to play in the NHL. The large majority have birth dates after the Wayne Gretzky trade to the L.A. Kings from the Edmonton Oilers back in 1988.
Here below is an interview we did with the top rated western U.S.A prospect, who just happens to be from California!
L.A. Selects (CAHA)
5’8 160 Forward
2011-2012 Stats: 47GP 54-57-111 26PIM
To begin with, talk a bit about what it is like playing hockey in southern California? How do you block out the distraction of the warm weather and beaches etc?
I live in northern California and commute down every weekend. When I'm in southern California, I fill most of my time with hockey so the weather and beaches aren't really much of a distraction.
What have been some of your favorite minor hockey moments on both a personal and team level to this point?
Last year my AA Santa Clara Blackhawks team made it all the way to the national championship finals where we took home silver. My current LA Selects AAA team just recently won our first tournament of the year at the Wild West Showdown. I don't really pay much attention to my personal achievements.
This season with the L.A. Selects you have become perhaps the top offensive player on a star laden team. What do you feel has been the biggest reason for that type of success?
I'm very fortunate to play with some very talented players who make it easy for me to score. My coaches, Rick Kelly and Bill Comrie, have done a great job working me in practice and putting me in the right spots during the game. Their system makes it easy for players to do well.
How has it been this year travelling around to various showcases and tournaments across the U.S.? Is it hard to juggle school and hockey?
It has been so much fun travelling around the U.S. with my team. We all get along really well together and I think that chemistry shows up on the ice. It certainly is hard to juggle school and hockey. I do a lot of school work on planes and in cars to try to keep my grades up.
Several California born players have had huge success in the WHL in recent years such as Tyler Johnson, Shane McColgan, Tyler Maxwell, Mitch Wahl etc....Will this play in your decision to perhaps choose the WHL over the U.S. college route?
Yes it will. With the number of players from the LA Selects that went to the WHL I certainly realize that it is a good path to take, but I'm still not sure which path I'd rather take.
Talk about some of the strengths in your game that help set you apart from the other players in your age group? What weaknesses are you currently working on?
I'm honestly not sure. I don't think I'm very far ahead if ahead at all of the players in my age group so I'm trying to work on all my skills and get better at all aspects of my game.
Which players in your region impress you the most on both a skill and leadership level?
From my team, my goalie Evan Sarthou and captain Keoni Teixeira are both great players and are looked up to in the locker room so they certainly impress me in both of those categories. I've seen some guys like Ethan Price from Omaha and Christian Cakebread from Phoenix that are great talents and that I respect as players. I was fortunate enough to play with Matt Barzal at a showcase over the summer and I definitely admire both his game and leadership. Also, my goalie last year, Geoffery Grimm, led the team in both talent and leadership.