Here at Days of Y’Orr HQ, we know we’re known for silly Photoshops, chopbusting remarks, and our love for Johnny Boychuk and Shawn Thornton. But we decided to throw everyone for a loop with this post.
Like many Bruins fans, we are stoked for the Bruins vs. Belfast Giants Select game this Saturday. Not only are we hockey fans, but the DOY staff has pretty strong Irish roots as well. The idea of both worlds colliding is enough to make us jig and reel, and speak with a brogue, all the while pronouncing names like Krecji and Lucic with a Guinness in hand.
Two players selected to the Belfast Giants Select squad were born and raised in Massachusetts — centerman Josh Prudden (Andover, MA) and defensemen Mike Hoffman (Scituate, MA). Josh was kind enough to take a few minutes between practices, games and classes (he’s working to get his MBA) to answer a few of our questions. Josh is in his first year with the Belfast Giants, has played in the AHL for several years and even made it to a Bruins training camp in 2003. Josh is currently is the team’s point leader with five points. Below is our Q/A:
DOY: How’s the season going so far for the Belfast Giants? Looks like the team is doing pretty well so far.
The season has been going pretty good for us so far this season. We just moved into first place this past weekend, and think we should have a strong team to compete with anyone in the league.
DOY: How excited were you to find out you got picked to be part of the Belfast Giants Select squad?
I was obviously very excited when I recieved the news about being selected to play against the Bruins. It is defintely special for a local player to be able to play against his hometown team. When my coach delivered the news it was hard for me to contain the excitement; felt like a little kid, haha. I’m sure I was glowing. And my coach has made numerous comments to that regard since then. It was something I had been hoping for since getting here. I feel honored to have been chosen, especially with some of the other top players in the league.
DOY: Did you have any idea that you were going to get pick?
I’m not sure that I had a feeling either way, but after having a strong start to the season (I was named Player of the Week for first week of season) I felt like I had a decent chance of getting picked. And, of course it doesnt hurt when your team is hosting the event, haha.
DOY: You must be pretty excited to go up against your favorite boyhood team. How much does it mean to you to play against the Bruins and to be part of this event? Do you have any extra motivation going against the Bruins and “proving” yourself?
I’m not sure about extra motivation, but it definitely means alot to be playing in the game. I know there is a buzz around the city, with billboards and posters everywhere we go. I have recieved alot of emails from friends and family back home telling me they will be watching, so I certainly want to do my best. And I’m sure at least part of the excitement comes from an aspect of proving we can play at a high level, and that is certainly what this will be.
There is going to be alot of media and fan attention surrounding the game, which will be pretty cool, but I also need to make sure I am ready to play a hockey game.
After the jump, the rest of our interview with Josh…
DOY: Has Jeff Mason razzed you and Mike Hoffman yet for making the team when he didn’t? We’re a little bummed all three of you Mass-natives didn’t get picked for the team. But, as Meatloaf says, two out of three ain’t bad. (Editor’s note: Mason is also a Massachusetts native on the Belfast Giants)
Yes, it’s too bad all three of us Boston guys are not playing, but Jeff Mason recently broke his thumb and is in a cast, so that wouldn’t be possible anyways. But he is a roommate of mine, and I have yet to hear any razzing; maybe a bit about the rest of guys getting a day off instead of having to play a game. But I’m sure all of them would gladly trade in the day off for a spot in the game, haha.
DOY: Will any friends and family from the Boston-area be flying over to Belfast to watch the game?
Unfortunately, I do not have any family coming for the game. I have heard from a couple people I know through various hockey circles that they will be in town. Not sure if they are looking for tickets or just wanted to tell me that. Although, I’m sure it’s more of the previous.
DOY: What do you think with be the toughest part about playing against the Bruins?
The toughest parts of playing the bruins will be a) Obviously they are an NHL team, and everything that comes with that-size, speed, coming from the best league in world, B) Not getting too caught up in everything surrounding the event and being ready to play a hockey game — just like we always do.
DOY: Do your years in the AHL give you an edge over some of the other Select squad guys, do you think?
Playing in the AHL, and competing in NHL training camps will definitely help me. I will have a good idea of what to expect in terms of the style and tempo of the game NHL teams play.
DOY: We know the Select squad has players from several different teams. How much practice are you guys going to get in before the game against the Bruins? Do you think this “all-star” squad will be prepared for Boston?
As a team, we will have had one practice Friday afternoon, and pre-game skate Saturday morning. So we will really only be getting to know each other by game time and then everyone will be flying back to their respective teams to play league games on Sunday.
Luckily for me, we will be home all weekend — a first so far this season. As far as being prepared, I know our coaches will do everything possible to have us as prepared as possible, considering we will have been together for 24 hours by puck drop. However, we will all be in “game shape” by now as we are a month into the season.
DOY: Are there any major rule differences between the NHL and the EIHL that you guys will need to get used to (or vice versa)?
There are really no major rules differences, the only one I can come up with at the moment is on faceoffs. Over here the centers are required to play the puck, as opposed to being able to tie up the opposing centers stick.
DOY: Personal favor: If you speak with Shawn Thornton, tell him the guys who say he’s the “3rd greatest NHL player of all time” say hi?
I can defintely tell that to Thornton. Maybe it will save me from getting hit by him, haha. Thats assuming he likes you???? And your not telling me to do that in order to get him fired up, or angry with me.
DOY: Speaking of Thornton, do you think you’ll trash talk with him, Chara or Lucic? If not, who on the Select squad would most likely to get in their faces? We’re impressed by anyone brave enough to go head-to-head with those sluggers. Is there an intimidation factor at all, going up against the likes of them?
I most likely will NOT be trash talking Thornton, Chara, or Lucic. I know how things work in North American hockey, haha. But honestly, as with hockey anywhere, you have to stick up for yourself if a situation arises.
We do have guys over here who play similar roles to the guys mentioned, and are not afraid to drop the gloves. Many of these guys have come from the same role back in the AHL. Mike Hoffman — Boston guy — is a pretty big guy, who has done his fair share of fighting, but is also a big asset to our team. He is actually our leading scorer as well!
I wouldn’t say there is an intimidation factor, but we all obviously know exactly who all the Bruins players are, so maybe something more like us looking up to them as great hockey players.
DOY: Back to the “serious” questions… what’s the Select’s strong point that gives you an edge against the Bruins? There any part of the Bruins game you think the Select can exploit?
One thing that may help us is the size of ice surface. We are all used to paying on the bigger international size, which I’m sure the Bruins are not. So hopefully we can use that to our advantage.
DOY: What’s the biggest difference between American and Ireland hockey markets?
I think North American fans are more knowledgable about the game, in general; although, of course, we have our diehard fans, just like anywhere else. And they are great support for our team and game.
DOY: What’s the hype like for this game over in Ireland? The team is obviously stoked for the game, but have you gotten wind of what the fans and country think?
Like I said before, almost anywhere we go, we are sure to see the poster with Chara and Colin Shields advertising the game. And we have all been getting a lot more ticket requests than normal. Myself, and Jon Gleed are in school getting our MBA’s here, and we recieved many good lucks, and general support for the upcoming weekend. There is defintely a buzz around the city. And I’m sure once the fans get a look at the likes of some your B’s they are going to get even more excited. All in all, everyone players and fans alike are all very excited for the game.
It’s really a once in a lifetime chance. especially for a local kid growing up watching the likes of Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, etc., and then to walk into the rink this afternoon and see Cam was special for me. It was great to see the Bruins in action, in person.
DOY: Finally, any predictions for the game against the Bs? A win for Belfast or Boston?
Not sure I want to make any prediction on the outcome of game. Just to be safe. I’m sure you know what I mean.
The DOY staff wishes Josh best of luck in his game against the Bruins and the rest of his EIHL season.