Fireside Chats: Nick Petrecki

Nick Petrecki was chosen by the San Jose Sharks with their second first round selection (28th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Before starting his professional career this season with the Worcester Sharks, he played with the Boston College Eagles, who he helped to win the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship title in his Freshman year.

In Worcester, Petrecki played 65 games, posting 2 goals and 14 assists. More Worcester Sharks information can be found at their official site.

Plank and TCY would like to thank Nick Petrecki and Worcester Sharks Director of Public Relations Eric Lindquist for making this interview happen. Enjoy.

How did you first learn the game of hockey? Who got you into the game at a young age?

I'd definitely say my father. He played Division III hockey at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. I picked it up at a young, young age, and he started building me rinks to skate in the backyard. He'd give me sticks and make nets, he really taught me everything I know about the game.

Any favorite players or teams growing up?

I was always a fan, being from New York, of the New York Rangers. Mark Messier was definitely my favorite player.

Tell us about your championship with Boston College in 2008, and why you decided to go pro with two years of eligibility left.

Well, 2008 was my Freshman year. It was a great year; we had alot of talent on the team and overall just had a great group of guys who got along together both on and off the ice. We had great leadership in our captain Mike Brennan; he's still one of the best guys I've played with leadership wise. We were so close and so talented it was almost, like, our destiny to win that year. The previous years, BC lost to Wisconsin and Michigan State in the finals, so we felt like we were due.

Pertaining to the decision to go pro, I just felt that the reason you play hockey is to play at the highest level possible. I felt that after two years, what I had accomplished not only team wise but personally as well, I was pretty satisfied. I wanted to take my game to the next level and not only move on, but also face the challenges of professional hockey.

For you, what was the hardest part about transitioning from the college to professional game?

I think the hardest part... it's just a totally different lifestyle. In college, your days are so full; you have classes, tutoring sessions, study hall, practice, work outs with the team... the lifestyle in the pros is so different. You get up, you get some breakfast in you, you go skate in the morning, you get a workout in if you want and then you're pretty much home at one o'clock with a ton of free time. It's about finding stuff to do.

You know, last year I didn't continue taking any classes at BC...but this year, going through once and knowing how much free time I'll have, I'm going to start taking some online classes and working towards my degree.

The easiest thing?

The easiest part was probably the ability to be at the rink every day. You know, in college, you can only practice a certain amount per week according to NCAA rules, and workout a certain amount per week, but now it's hockey, hockey, hockey all the time. It's pretty nice.

Like I said, there's alot of free time, but if you want to stay at the rink all day and work on stuff you can. So I think that was really nice to have as an option. If I want to stay on the ice for four hours and work on my stuff, I'm allowed to do that.

You played all season in Worcester, but because of injuries and call ups, had varying defensive partners. Is this something that Roy Sommer likes to do, and is it something you're familiar with?

I can't speak for Roy, so I can't say if that's something he likes to do. I think that's just the circumstances we were in last year. We had Joe Callahan miss almost half the season because of a neck surgery. We had Derek Joslin up a ton. We had Jason Demers up a ton. We also had a ton of injuries. We had Mike Wilson get his finger broken late in the season. I think it was just the cards we were dealt.

When you play that many games, alot more negative things and positive things can happen than in college. We faced a bit of an injury bug there for a while. But that's just the hand we were dealt and I thought we handled it pretty well with not only guys that got called up but also the guys who got sent down. We just had to roll with the punches.

Your minutes decreased pretty significantly at the tail end of the regular season, and you were scratched during the playoffs. Why would you say that happened, and how did you deal with that adversity?

I dealt with it as a learning experience. I was pretty happy with my year; I'm glad I left school and I'm glad I got one year of professional hockey underneath my belt. It was definitely a learning year.

But at the same time, I want to be in the lineup every night. I obviously wasn't doing something right, you know, for the coaches to keep me out of the game.

I think it came down to consistency. You know, not always having an A game, but I shouldn't be having a D game either. I think you find that equilibrium and everything, I have to be solid at both ends of the rink and be a reliable guy in pressure situations. I think that this year my main goal is consistency. But again, at the same time, it was a great learning experience. It wasn't an easy thing to deal with, but I thought I handled it really well. At the same time, it's definitely a learning factor and something I want to work towards.

I want to make it harder for the coach to take me out of the lineup.

How do you plan on improving on last year's season?

I really want to improve my consistency, first and foremost. After that, it's important for me, you know... Coach Cunniff and Coach Sommer are hockey encyclopedias. The amount of information that those guys know, I try to go out there and soak everything in. I want to apply what I learned last year to my game this year and continue learning.

How did being with the team in the playoffs help you?

I think it was a good experience for me to get some practice time in and work on my skills... work on what they were teaching me. Also, I tried to bring some of the college guys in at the end of the year and ease them into the transition as well. I was in their shoes the year before coming into Worcester. I didn't play any games, but I knew the importance of introducing them to the guys and hanging out and what the pro lifestyle was like.

What has your training schedule been like this offseason?

I don't change it from summer to summer. I've been working out at Boston College for the past three summers now ever since I was a freshman at BC. I work out with the head strength trainer there, Russ DeRosa, he's a real close friend of mine. There's alot of olympic lifting; usually around 7:00 in the morning I get a workout in, both upper and lower body, and then I'll come back later in the day and do either a run with sleds on the football field or an agility workout.

I've also been skating with Coach Cunniff, trying to work on some things as well. I work out five times a week, some weeks are heavier than others, but I'm pretty happy with my progress. I've always been a big strong kid, but I've worked on my quickness, especially my lateral quickness and change of direction and stuff like that. I definitely think I've improved this summer so far.

You were a star at the Sharks Rookie Development Camp last year against Anaheim. Are you looking forward to this year's camp, especially with more teams and prospects involved?

It's a great opportunity not only to go up there and play well, but also to get your legs underneath you to get warmed up for the main camp. We have alot of guys back from last year's team, in addition to some of the college guys that we've signed and the major-junior guys that we've signed. So it's going to be a good opportunity for me to get my wind back and my legs underneath me.

But at the same time, like I said, I'm going to apply some of the things that I've learned being in the league for one year already. I'm going to apply some of the things that Coach Sommer and Coach Cunniff want to see out of me. It's going to be a good opportunity for me to show that I can perform at a high level and get ready for the minicamp.

Doug Wilson has mentioned you when talking about the defensive depth in the system, and says that there will possibly be some competition at camp for a spot on the blueline. Does this help motivate you, and what do you think are the chances of us seeing you in San Jose sometime this year?

You know what, I've always said that if you don't have the motivation within you... It's not Doug Wilson's job or Roy Sommer's job or Dave Cunniff's job to motivate me. If you're at this level and you have a problem with getting motivated... that's a big issue. I've got motivation within myself, especially going through some of the experiences that I had last year.

You know what? I don't want to play in the American Hockey League. I want to move up. Obviously, there may be some room there. I've been motivated all summer to get bigger, stronger, to be more consistent. It's really up to me. It's not up to other people to motivate me or tell me that I have to do this or that. I've been given the tools and I've been given the direction of where to go. It's up to me but like I said there's an opportunity there to jump in and compete for it.

Since you're an American, we're almost required to ask-how do you feel about the current national program being put in place by USA Hockey? A strong performance at the World Juniors and Olympics has us pretty excited for the new crop of young American players such as yourself.

I'm very excited about it. Obviously you saw this year, not only in World Juniors but also in the Olympics... the US can compete. I think USA Hockey has done a great job of taking kids at a young age and putting them in the right direction both on and off the ice.

They're definitely moving in the right direction and we're really excited about it.

Thanks for your time Nick.

No problem, I appreciate it.