By Neil Horowitz
Among the bright spots in the first month of the Norfolk Admirals season has been Peter Holland, who remains one of the top prospects in the Ducks system. The 21-year-old center from Toronto leads Anaheim's AHL affiliate in goals with seven, and is tied with fellow top prospect Kyle Palmieri in scoring with 14 points.
Holland was taken 15th overall by the Ducks in the 2009 NHL Draft, and has played just four games so far in Anaheim, scoring his first career goal November 11, 2011 against Toronto at Honda Center.
We caught up with Holland just prior to a stretch in which he and the Ads will play three games in four nights.
What's your assessment of Norfolk's season so far?
I think we got off to a pretty good start. We kind of let some bad things creep into our game a little bit and put ourselves behind the eight-ball here the last four or five games. We have a strong team and we all believe it’s only a matter of time until we learn to win again and get consistent with it.
What's clicking for you personally right now?
I think just playing my game. I’m another year older and more mature. Playing my game and getting good coaching here from Trent Yawney and Marty Wilford and Havi (Mike Haviland) and just trying to do all the little things right. I think when you do that, it helps with the big picture. Playing with guys like (Kyle) Palmieri, and (Patrick) Maroon and (Devante) Smith-Pelly makes it easy too.
Name one thing you've improved on this season and one thing you're still working on right now.
One of the biggest things I wanted to work on in the summer was faceoffs, and I think I’ve gotten a lot better in that department. It’s definitely a lot easier when you have the home ice advantage in the circle. I’m still working on winning (faceoffs) in the road rinks when you don’t have the advantage.
Something I want to keep improving on is being more solid defensively -- supporting the puck and putting myself in areas where I can get the puck more. I know when I have the puck, I can control the game more.
What's life like in Norfolk?
Life is good here. It’s a great area to live in. A lot of us are living up by the beach in Virginia Beach, so it’s kind of a different feel. I know Anaheim has (beaches), but for us Toronto guys, we don’t get to live on the beach ever. It’s a nice change. It’s a great town and we have a lot of great supporters.
How would you describe the fans in Norfolk?
The fans have been great. They’re really supportive at the rink, and everyone is a big fan. Away from the rink, everyone really looks out for us. The team’s past (Norfolk won last year’s Calder Cup) has helped carve a good pathway for us. People here are excited about hockey and that’s a good thing. We’re trying to ride the coattails (of last year’s success) and carve our own path.
What's more ideal for you, to get called up to the NHL and get some shifts on the third and fourth lines or to play top line minutes in Norfolk?
Your dream of a kid is obviously to play in the NHL. There’s something to be said for paying your dues and working your way up the ranks. My ultimate goal is to be in Anaheim, though. If that means playing limited minutes on the third or fourth line, I’d be happy to be playing in an Anaheim uniform. If I’m there, I can let my skills show and hopefully work my way up.
That being said, being in Norfolk and playing top six minutes is not a bad thing. We have a great coaching staff here to help us get better and help us achieve our goals of making the Ducks full-time.
Which other Ducks prospects in Norfolk have impressed you so far?
Smith-Pelly, who played (in Anaheim) last year, is a very good player. Palmieri is very offensively gifted. Maroon is a big body and a lot of fun to play with out there. Sami Vatanen is really skilled back on the point. There are a lot of guys down here that are good players.
Give us a Movember update - which guys are looking good and which could use some work?
Bodie and Palmieri each have a great 'stache going right now. (Mat) Clark, my roommate, has a little bit of a gross one, but it’s pretty good. Mine could definitely use some work.
Favorite NHL player growing up: Joe Sakic
If not a hockey player, I'd be: I’d probably try to be a pro golfer first and then settle for a desk job
Favorite movie: Wedding Crashers
Favorite food: Pasta
Greatest strength as a player: The way I see the game
Best advice I've ever gotten: As long as the coach is yelling at you, he’s in your corner.
What I hope coaches and teammates say about me: That I’m a hard-working player and that I show up and do my job every day.
One thing most people don't know about me: I got to ride a hovercraft earlier this year
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