You were active in the roller hockey community. Can you share your background in the sport?
I started playing roller hockey when I was about five years old, right before ice hockey. That was the first thing I really liked. I enjoyed it. All my best friends played it, and some of my closest friends played it. I grew up playing it and then I got into ice hockey, but I just kept playing roller hockey as I got older.
You played for the U.S. men’s national inline team in 2010. What was that experience like?
It was good. I had never been overseas before, and I had the chance to go to Sweden. I got to experience Europe. I got to play with some of my closest friends from St. Louis, and I got to play with some new guys, new faces that I met who are long-term friends to this day. We got the chance to play and we won a gold medal. It was pretty cool to play for your own country to win the gold medal. That was pretty exciting. It was really emotional and really thrilling.
Roller hockey is big in St. Louis, and now you’re playing in Anaheim. What were your impressions of Southern California roller hockey when you were younger?
They were the best. They always had the best teams growing up, the best players. They had all the sponsorships. Growing up, they were the teams to beat. Even to this day, they still are the teams to beat. California is a hotbed for roller hockey. The more you grow up, at my age now, there’s so much talent and so many young guys now, it’s getting way better. When I was young, I was playing against the Anaheim Bulldogs, O.C. Blades. We had so many teams I could name. You had them all.
Is there anything you can carry over from roller hockey to ice hockey? Any skills you acquired in roller that help you on ice?
There is a lot of hands involved. A lot of hockey sense involved, a lot of smarts. It’s good for that, like slowing the game down and using your head more instead of forcing plays. I think California roller hockey helped the SoCal guys make it to the NHL. I can say it helped me for my game from a hockey sense and my hands.
The sport of inline got me to where I am today. It’s a good, fast-skilled game. There’s a lot of hands, good hands in the game. There’s good vision. There’s a lot of slowing the puck down, too.
Do you still play roller hockey?
No, I’m not playing. I’m done right now [laughs]. I haven’t gotten the chance to play anymore. My four-year-old son, Anthony, plays it now, so I’m around it a lot. My uncle owns a roller hockey rink in St. Louis, so me and my son go out there and mess around because it’s free. We got out there during the day and just mess around. That’s the closest I’ll get.
What are your fondest memories of roller hockey?
Winning with Team USA was pretty cool. Winning the pro division at NARCH, too. That was pretty cool. I always got second place. I won the junior division when I was younger. We won the midget division. It’s always cool to get that gold medal. But if you had the honor to play for Team USA, that’s pretty cool, too.
You left quite an impression on the Ducks fan base with your play this season. What were your thoughts on this season?
I got the opportunity. Bruce Boudreau and Bob Murray gave me the opportunity. They had confidence in me. I just try to go out there every night and play my heart out there and give it everything I can. I try to leave it all out there, leave an impression. I was just trying to do my job and do everything I can to help the team win. If anyone needed anything, I was there for them on the ice. I’m happy to be a part of the Anaheim Ducks organization for the next two years. They’ve been nothing but good to me, and I can’t wait for the new season to come.
What was your fondest memory?
Playing in front of my family and friends. My son was there in Nashville when I scored my first career NHL goal. That was the best moment of my career, hands down. My family got to be there, my son, especially. It was pretty cool he got to see that. There are a lot of memories there. It was very emotional.
What are your goals moving forward?
I have a really big offseason this year. I’m training very hard this summer to get into the very best shape I can, and get into camp and try to make the team. That’s my goal. I just want to be an Anaheim Duck. I’m going to just go in there and try to fight hard, play hard, and come in great shape. Hopefully I can impress them again, and hopefully I’ll be on the team.
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