This week’s interview is with Anchorage Igloos LW Jerry Koons.
SHL Digest: We’re here this week with one of the most productive players in SHL history, Anchorage’s Jerry Koons. Jerry, thanks for talking with us.
Jerry Koons: Hi, how are you?
SHLD: Doing well, thanks. Obviously, the story of the season right now is the playoff races in both divisions, but especially the West, where you’ve got four team with a real chance at winning. How does this race feel from the inside?
JK: It feels good! Every game has meaning, and it keeps you on your toes. Obviously, it’s a challenge knowing that you can play great and still miss the playoffs, because there are three other great teams battling it out with you. But going into the playoffs, it’s better to be sharp from playing meaningful hockey, rather than cruising through weeks of meaningless games. I’d rather stay sharp.
SHLD: You’re the defending champions, and you’ve made three trips to the Finals. Do you think that gives you an edge?
JK: Yes and no. I mean, we’re confident in big games, and we’re not going to get rattled when the spotlight is on, because we’ve been there before. But Michigan’s been there before, too. And maybe Seattle and Saskatchewan haven’t, but they’ve got terrific underdog energy. So I think it helps, but it’s not enough on its own. We’ve got to stay hungry and focused.
SHLD: The Igloos have developed a reputation for starting slow and then getting hot in the second half. Last season, your coach [Sam Castor] called the team out on it. This season, you held a players-only meeting about it. What do you think are the reasons for this pattern?
JK: Well, one obvious thing: Postseason hockey is hard! It’s intense, it wears you out physically and emotionally. So even though we get six months off afterward, there is a hangover effort. Also, I think a lot of our offense is based on timing, precision passes, stuff like that. And it can take a while to get all that lined up the way it should be.
SHLD: Let’s shift a bit from talking about your team to talking about you.
JK: Oh boy, my favorite subject! (laughs)
SHLD: You’re certainly a well-known player around the league – you won the MVP award and the Commissioner’s Trophy back in 2017 – but you’re not a “name” star in the same sense of, say, your teammate Jake Frost. Does that bother you a little, or are you okay with flying under the radar?
JK: I’m fine with it. Among the people who matter, I know I’m respected and appreciated. My teammates, my family, our fans, they know what I bring to the table. If I were a “name” star, as you put it, what does that get me? An endorsement contract? No thanks.
SHLD: When you’re not on the ice, what do you like to do?
JK: Spend time with my family, whenever I can. My wife and I have two daughters, Jessica and Maddie, and they’re my life.
SHLD: Do they play hockey like their dad?
JK: Well, Maddie’s less than a year old, so it’s a little early for her yet. Jessica is five, and she’s started skating. She wants to be a goalie, though. Ty [Worthington] is her favorite player.
SHLD: Not her dad?!
JK: I know! I’m trying not to take it personally.
SHLD: Well, that brings an end to another interesting interview. Thanks again, Jerry, and good luck the rest of the season!
JK: Look forward to talking with you again after we win the Vandy!