SHL Digest: We’re here in the SHL’s northernmost outpost, talking to one of the Igloos’ key contributors, Nile Bernard. Nile, thanks for speaking with us.
Nile Bernard: Sure thing.
SHLD: You’re not one of the famous names in the league, and a lot of fans might not recognize you, but your teammates say that you’re the glue that holds the team together. How do you do that?
NB: I think that’s really more about the culture we have here. On a lot of teams, the stars set the tone. They decide whether the locker room is playful or serious, what kind of music we play after the games, and so on. But here, it’s not like that. Here, we all treat each other equally, from Frosty [Jake Frost] to last guy off the bench. We’re like the Three Musketeers: all for one and one for all.
SHLD: Ah, but it’s more than that. Your teammates say that you’re sort of the dad of the group. For instance, when you’re on the road, you’re the one who scouts out new restaurants and makes reservations for the team.
NB: Yeah, I do that. That’s mainly because I like food, and I like to explore different cities. Most guys, they’re happy to go out when the game is over, but they just want to go have a good time. I want to make sure we’re going to places worth going to.
SHLD: You’re also the player that new guys on the team go to for advice or to get situated. You’ve even had several of the young players stay at your house.
NB: Yeah, that’s true. I remember how it was when I was a rookie, how difficult it was to adjust to life in the pros. Especially in a city like Anchorage. It’s a great city, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a big change if you’re not used to it. I try to make sure guys feel welcome, help them get their footing, get them pointed in the right direction. When you’re with the Igloos, you’re part of our family.
SHLD: That’s a good attitude. Do you think that’s helped the Igloos be one of the SHL’s most successful teams?
NB: Absolutely. Don’t get me wrong, Coach [Sam] Castor has played a big role, and we’ve got a lot of talented guys. But that family feeling definitely plays a role. We trust every last guy on the roster.
SHLD: This year, you guys haven’t been as dominant as usual. What do you think the issues have been?
NB: I don’t think it’s any one thing. I think losing the Vandy last year was a blow, and it took us a while to shake it off. I think our passing has been a little sloppier, our shots not quite on target. But I think we’re starting to get sharper, and I expect a big second half from us.
SHLD: The trading deadline is coming up. Do you expect any big moves for the Igloos?
NB: I don’t think so. We might look for some additional depth, but we’ve all got confidence in the team we have. Michigan’s going to be a tough battle [in the playoffs], but we’ve got the talent to take them down.
SHLD: Sounds good! We appreciate the interview, as always. Good luck in the second half!
NB: Thanks. Look forward to talking to you again when we win the Vandy!