Interview of the Week: Reese Milton

This week’s interview is with Hershey Bliss D Reese Milton.

SHL Digest: We’re here this week with the top blueliner on the SHL’s latest playoff team, Reese Milton.  Welcome, Reese. Congratulations on making it to the playoffs!

Reese Milton

Reese Milton: Thanks! We’re all really excited.

SHLD: How does it feel to make it to the playoffs once again?

RM: It’s cool, for sure! It seemed like everyone thought Quebec was going to beat us, but I guess we’re tougher than everyone thought.

SHLD: What do you think was able to push you over the top?

RM: I think it’s our great team chemistry. We’ve been through a lot, and it’s brought us closer together. And the Love Line was awesome again!

SHLD: Last year you were at the top of the standings, but you didn’t win. Do you think you’ll be able to go farther this year?

RM: Last year, the crowds in Hamilton were so loud, and we let them get in our heads. We won’t let that happen this year.

SHLD: Glad to hear it. Now onto some more fun questions. As your fans surely know, you are a lover of squirrels.

RM: Yes! Finally some squirrel questions.

SHLD: Haha! How are the squirrels doing?

RM: Doing great! I’ve got a whole family of them in my house now. They’re so cute!

SHLD: It sounds adorable. How does your family feel about your furry friends?

RM: Well, my wife thinks it might not be a great idea to keep wild animals in the house. But look into their adorable little eyes… how could they hurt you?

SHLD: Surely they can’t be perfect all of the time. Have there been any mishaps lately?

RM: Well, last time I was home, I was snuggling one by the fireplace, and he bit me and ran up the chimney. Little rascal!

SHLD: Goodness. It must have been difficult to get him back down!

RM: It was! Especially because I forgot to put the fire out before I went after him.

SHLD: Oh dear. Well, good to see that you are all right after that.

RM: Just a few first-degree burns. No big deal!

SHLD: As a hockey player, you’re quite resilient when to comes to injuries. Do you think your experience as a hockey player has helped you raise so many wild animals?

RM: Actually, I think it’s the opposite. As a hockey player, you have to be tough. But when I go home and play with my squirrels, I get to let my softer side out.

SHLD: We’re impressed at your level of balance! Thank you for providing so much insight on your raising of squirrels.

RM: Thanks! It’s my passion.

SHLD: It’s always a pleasure to interview you, you keep it interesting. Best of luck in the playoffs!

RM:Thanks! This is our year.

Interview of the Week: Ryan Airston

This week’s interview is with Dakota Jackalopes LW “Flyin’ Ryan” Airston.

SHL Digest: This week, we’re talking with a longtime SHL star who’s had a long and twisting journey this season, Ryan Airston.  Ryan, thanks for speaking with us.

Ryan Airston

Ryan Airston: Hi, everybody!  “Long and twisting journey” is probably an understatement, to be honest.

SHLD: You said it!  Let’s talk a little bit about the year you’ve had.  In the offseason, you signed a contract extension, seemingly putting to rest the rumors that the team couldn’t afford you.  But then, a couple weeks after the season started, one of your teammates got those rumors going again by saying the team should move because attendance was too low.  The team denied the rumors, but then a couple months later, they tried to trade you and Arkady Golynin, only to have the league veto those trades and ultimately assume control of the franchise.  Now you’re closing in on the end of the season, and everything’s up in the air: no one knows where the team will be next year, or whether the GM and coaches will be back, or any of the players either.

RA: Man, it kind of makes me dizzy just hearing all that.

SHLD: With good reason.  So, first of all: how do you feel about everything that’s happened?

RA: Mostly, I feel bad for our fans.  Maybe there haven’t been enough of them to save the team, but they’ve been loyal.  They’ve kept showing up regardless of all the headlines and crazy stories.  And their reward for all that loyalty is they’re probably going to lose their team.  That just sucks.

SHLD: And what about you? How did you feel about almost being traded?

RA: I wasn’t happy to get traded.  Obviously, when I signed the extension here, that showed how much I wanted to stay with this team and these fans.  I hoped that by staying, it was a sign that the payroll cuts were over, and that the team was going to start building again.  I never imagined that less than a year later, I’d find myself on the way out of town, or almost.  I didn’t want to leave my teammates and the organization.  It felt like getting on a lifeboat from a sinking ship, only I was put on the lifeboat against my will.

SHLD: So were you happy when the trade was vetoed?

RA: It was complicated.  I was glad to be back, yeah.  But the whole mess showed just how badly off the team was financially, and with the league taking ownership, we’re all kind of stuck in limbo waiting to see what happens next.

SHLD: If the team does wind up in a new city, will you still want to stay?

RA: I think so, yeah.  I expect that in a new city, we’ll be able to start building again, and that’s exciting.  It’s a lot more fun when you know you’re playing for something.

SHLD: One last question: we’ve gotten a ton of question from people who want to know how your fluffy bunny ranch is doing. Can you provide us with an update?

RA: Doing very well, thanks.  This year’s bunnies are the fluffiest ones yet.  We’re up around 300 bunnies at this point.  If you know someone who wants a fluffy bunny for a pet, tell them to give me a call; I’ll hook them up!

SHLD: Sounds good!  Thanks for another fun interview, Ryan.  Good luck the rest of the season!

RA: It’s next season that I’m focused on at this point, but thanks!

Interview of the Week: Calvin Frye

This week’s interview is with Hamilton Pistols C Calvin Frye.

SHL Digest: We’re here this week with a player who’s grown into one of the league’s brightest stars, Calvin Frye.  Calvin, thanks for speaking with us.

Calvin Frye

Calvin Frye: Hey, thanks!  Glad to be talking with you.

SHLD: So, your Pistols on the defending champions, and although you haven’t clinched yet, it looks like you’re on the road to make the playoffs again.  How do you feel about your chances to go back-to-back?

CF: I feel great about our team.  We’re a tight-knit bunch, and we’ve been through the wars together.  But it’s definitely not going to be easy on us.  To get out of our division, we’ll have to beat either Hershey or Quebec, and those are both really strong teams.  And then if we make the Finals, it’s either Portland – and they’re downright scary – or Anchorage, who have been in the Finals practically every year.  There’s no easy wins in that group.

SHLD: Well, let’s start by considering the Eastern playoff.  Which team would you rather face: Hershey or Quebec?

CF: This question seems destined to become bulletin board material, but I’d have to say Hershey.  I think we match up with them a little better.  Quebec is just a brutal team to play against.  You might win, but you’ll be hurting afterward.  Hershey’s not quite as physical.

SHLD: What do you think you’ll need to do in order to win another Vandy?

CF: We’ll need to play with the same kind of hunger that we showed last year.  We’ll need to play smart with the puck and drive to the net whenever we can.  And we’ll need our fans to show up and be loud!  That’s our biggest advantage.

SHLD: All right!  Now let’s talk about you for a bit.  You’re the leading goal scorer in the SHL with 37, and you’re third in the league in points with 68.  A lot of people around the league are saying that you may be the best player in the SHL.  Would you consider yourself the leader of the Pistols now, or is it still Steven Alexander‘s team?

CF: Oh, no no no.  It’s Alex’s team all the way, and it’s not even close.  He’s the heart and soul of our team; his competitive drive fuels everything we do.  The statistics are irrelevant; leadership isn’t about numbers.  I’m perfectly happy playing a supporting role to Alex.

SHLD: Do you think he might pass the baton to you someday?

CF: Dude, he’s 27.  I expect he’s got at least a decade more hockey in him.  Are you trying to get me in trouble? (laughing)

SHLD: Of course not.  But it’s fair to say that you’ve grown into a leadership role on the team, yes?

CF: Yes, I think that’s fair.  Last year really crystallized that for me.  You reach a point where you need to start thinking bigger than yourself; you need to think about the team as a whole. You realize that the younger guys are looking up to you, and that you help to set the tone for the team.  That’s a serious responsibility.

SHLD: Do you welcome that responsibility, or do you think of it as a burden?

CF: I welcome it, definitely. It means that you’re good enough and you’ve reached a point in your career where you’re ready to lead.  It makes me feel good about what I’ve accomplished.

SHLD: One last question.  Last season, Steven Alexander got married in midseason, and it seemed to be a real turning point for him and the team as a whole.  Any wedding bells in your near future?

CF: Nah, not me.  The most important girl in my life right now is my dog Rhubarb.  I’m not planning to settle down just yet.

SHLD: A lot of female fans are probably glad to hear you say that.

CF: Believe me, I don’t have anything against the idea of being married . But I haven’t found the right one yet.  I’ve got plenty of time.

SHLD: All right!  Well, thank you for an interesting interview, Calvin.  Good luck the rest of the season!

CF: Fortunately, the playoffs are coming soon. The real excitement begins!

Interview of the Week: Tom Hoffman

This week’s interview is with Anchorage Igloos C Tom Hoffman.

SHL Digest: We’re here this week with Tom Hoffman, who has emerged from out of nowhere to become a strong contributor on a contending team.  Tom, thanks for speaking with us.

Tom Hoffman

Tom Hoffman: You bet!  It’s been a wild ride this season.

SHLD: It certainly has!  Perhaps you can tell us a bit about that ride.  In your first two years in New York, you were a marginal contributor at best.  You were generally considered a bust, and your future in the league was an open question.  Then you were traded to Anchorage, and suddenly you’re one of the team’s top scorers.  You’ve already scored more goals this season than you had in your entire career, and you’ve set a personal high in assists as well.  You’ve skated on the Igloos’ top line.

TH: Yeah, that’s all true, which is nuts.  But yeah.

SHLD: So how did you do it?  What was the secret to turning your career around?

TH: I think the “secret” was landing with a good organization.  In New York, it’s a star-driven system.  The big guys are always going to get theirs, and everyone else is fighting for the table scraps.  If you can complement one of the stars, then you’ll get your ice time.  Otherwise, it’s a lot tougher.  I never really got a chance to skate with the stars, and I just got buried.  I didn’t get opportunities, so my numbers weren’t great, and the coaches lost confidence in me and I lost confidence in myself.  It was a bad cycle.

SHLD: And Anchorage is different?

TH: Totally different, night and day.  Anchorage is a much more team-based culture.  It’s all about winning and what’s best for the organization.  The stars want to help you succeed to help the team succeed, instead of looking at you as a rival.  And ice time is assigned based on performance, not reputation.  I’m getting top-line minutes here; I never could have gotten that with the Night.

SHLD: So has that taken some of the pressure off you and helped you to perform better?

TH: Yes, definitely.  In New York, it felt like every time I had a bad shift, it meant I was in danger of getting my minutes cut or getting benched.  The stress and pressure just built and built, and of course it impacted my performance.  I got in a hole that I couldn’t get out of.  Here, if I have a bad shift, I know that I’ll be able to go out there and try again next shift.  It’s a much more supportive environment, and I love it.

SHLD: Let’s talk about the team for a bit.  The Igloos are in a strong position in the playoff chase, but they face a tough challenge from Saskatchewan.  What do you think Anchorage needs to do to secure another trip to the postseason?

TH: We just need to keep playing our game.  We’re a strong team all around, and we’re in a great position to go all the way.  We just need to keep our heads up, keep our intensity up, and keep playing the way we know how.  The Shockers won’t make it easy on us, but I’m confident in us.

SHLD: Excellent!  Well, thanks for your time, Tom. Good luck the rest of the season!

TH: Thanks!  I just want to keep the good times going.