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Q&A: CHAD KOLARIK

Wednesday, 05.07.2008 / 12:57 PM / Features
By Heath Price-Khan
As a 2004 7th round draft pick, Chad Kolarik will enter training camp this year as a bit of an underdog. He will try and emulate what Dan Winnik was able to accomplish last year when he arrived at camp as an under the radar 9th round pick from that same 2004 draft. Can Kolarik be this year’s Winnik? The 30 goals he pumped in during his senior season at the University of Michigan would certainly indicate that Chad will be one to watch when the Coyotes return to the ice.

Heath Price-Khan: What is the biggest difference in your game from when you arrived at Michigan as a freshman to now?

Chad Kolarik: When I first got to Michigan I was a little tentative to hit people, and take hits to make plays, now that I have matured and gotten older and stronger I have much more confidence. Mentally, it is about having that confidence to take the hits and deliver them as well to the bigger guys out there.

HPK: You were a 7th round pick (199th Overall) in the 2004 draft. Was that disappointing for you or did being a late round pick give you added motivation to work on your game?

CK: It was disappointing at first, but you can’t dwell on something like that. Everyone always told me it doesn’t matter where you get drafted, it matters what you do after you get drafted.

HPK: In your four years at Michigan you increased your scoring each year from 35 to 38 to 45 and then a massive leap to 56 points as a senior with 30 goals. What did you do between your junior and senior year to elevate your play?

CK: Just constantly working out and getting stronger. I gained about ten pounds during that summer. It was about getting stronger physically, and also mentally, which I worked on with a sports psychologist.

HPK: How much of an impact on your development did Michigan’s legendary Head Coach Red Berenson have?

CK: He had a huge impact. Coach Berenson knows exactly how to coach a player. He brings the best out of everybody, especially this year with all the freshman we had. He’s real vocal to all the guys, and will certainly let you know if you are not doing something right. I think he has been huge in my development.

HPK: What was harder to deal with, losing in the Frozen Four, or the fact that it was to Notre Dame?

CK: I think it was just the fact that we lost coming in as the top ranked team in the country. It was tough on our freshman coming in expected to win. They took it hard because some did not think they played as well as they could have. It was disappointing to lose, but still a great achievement to get Michigan back to a Frozen Four for the first time in five years so Kevin Porter and I left a good legacy.

HPK: That is a huge rivalry on the gridiron, has that stretched to the ice?

CK: The rivalry struggled while their program was not that strong, but as soon as they brought in Coach Jeff Jackson they catapulted to one of the top four teams in the CCHA. I think it is great for College Hockey to get the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry going on the ice. It is good to see the fan support growing for them and I know there are getting a new building which is only going to help grow the rivalry.

HPK: What players did you idolize growing up?

CK: My favorite player used to be Jeremy Roenick, but now it is Chris Drury of the New York Rangers.

Kevin Porter in action at Michigan
HPK: How closely did you and Kevin Porter follow the Phoenix Coyotes this season?

CK: We bought the NHL Center Ice Package so that we could get all the games this year. We watched Mueller, Doan and other young guys like Hanzal step up. It was exciting to see the team’s bright future, and we just hope we can be a part of it.

HPK:  At Michigan you had two teammates that were also Coyotes’ draft picks in Kevin Porter and Chris Summers. How special is it to know that you might have the opportunity to all be reunited once Summers turns pro?

CK: It’s awesome to think about having an opportunity to come into the league with a close friend and hopefully learn to adapt to the pro game together. They are both great players so I am just really excited for the future.

HPK: Will you and Kevin Porter be working out in the offseason to prepare for your first professional training camp?

CK: I will be working out with Kevin all summer in Michigan so that we can both be ready to go for camp.

HPK: What is your goal this offseason as far as improving your game? Is it adding strength, working on your skating, or something else?

CK: It’s more off ice stuff for me. I want to put on five to ten pounds and get physically stronger so that I can compete better at the pro level. If I put on that weight it will give me a mental edge coming in to camp this year.

Chad Kolarik is willing to take a hit to make a play
HPK: Talk about your experience with the San Antonio Rampage. How big a thrill was it to get a hat trick in the AHL Playoffs?

CK: It was pretty exciting, but I got a couple of tap-in goals from Porter’s passes. Scoring a hat trick in any game is always exciting, especially when it is only your second pro game. It is something I will always remember. Hopefully, I can do something like that in the NHL if I make it.

HPK: How excited are you about potentially playing for Wayne Gretzky?

CK: When you are a hockey player you grow up idolizing Wayne Gretzky and everything he did. The way he played was unbelievable to watch. While I was playing in prep school I used to watch his DVD “Ultimate Gretzky” before every game. It’s just weird to even think about having the opportunity to play for him and have him be my coach. Hopefully, it will drive me to work even harder and do what I need to do to get there!

 
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