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October 12, 2010
McKeen's correspondent Randy Gorman recently had the opportunity to interview forward Shane McColgan from the Kelowna Rockets. McColgan talks about his game, his minor hockey roots in the U.S., playing for the Rockets, hockey in California and the biggest influence on his young hockey career.
McKeen's: Having been born in the U.S., where did you play your minor hockey before coming into the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets?
McColgan: I played in the Los Angeles area for the L.A. Junior Selects right up through my Bantam years. My midget years were also with the Selects based out of EL Segundo, California.
McKeen's: What is the biggest adjustment you have had to make from minor hockey to major junior hockey?
McColgan: I had to train that much harder in the summer to prepare to play in the WHL. The League is much faster, and you have to be stronger, and be ready to play mentally and physically every night.
McKeen's: What is the strongest part of your game?
McColgan: Skating, without a doubt. Also, challenging opposing defenseman wide and using my speed to create open space for my teammates to get scoring opportunities. I see myself as a playmaking centre that uses his wingers in given situations.
McKeen's: What are the things you worked on in the off-season to get ready for your second season in the WHL?
McColgan: I worked on faceoffs a lot, but to be honest, I worked on all facets of the game so I could improve this season. That included getting stronger in the weight room, and also working on my on-ice skills and drills.
McKeen's: What are your thoughts on all the scouts that will be watching you this season?
McColgan: It's always in the back of my mind. I have to go and play my game and help this team win.
McKeen's: What is it like playing for the Kelowna Rocket's organization?
McColgan: It's been unbelievable. It's a top notch organization. I have a great billet family. Bruce Hamilton, the owner and GM of the team is one of the most respected guys in the league and it's just great to play for him.
McKeen's: Why did you decide to play in the WHL, when many U.S. players go the NCAA route or play either in the USHL or the National Team Development Program (NTDP)?
McColgan: Honestly, it's a preference. I just thought with all the consultations with my family and agent that major junior hockey and the WHL was the right fit for me with all things considered. The Kelowna Rockets and the WHL have produced many quality NHL players and I hope to follow in their footsteps.
McKeen's: There has been a bruising debate lately between the CHL and the NCAA over recruiting players. What are your thoughts on that.
McColgan: I don't have a negative thing to say about going to college if that's what some guys want to do. The big thing for me was the schedule. They play about 36 games, where as in the WHL you play 72 games. I would describe it as a mini NHL schedule, and I think that helps you prepare a little better to play pro mentally and physically, as to knowing what to expect.
McKeen's: How do you feel about being considered a top prospect for this year's draft?
McColgan: I'm pretty calm about it. I'm not getting too ahead of myself. I know I can compete and play hard every night and if the team does well, hopefully my draft stock will go up.
McKeen's: Who has had the greatest influence on your hockey career so far?
McColgan: I'd say my family, I have to thank them. They've made sacrifices in order to order to help me develop and excel to date.
McKeen's: How far has hockey come in California, as compared with other areas of the U.S.?
McColgan: Ever since Wayne Gretzky came to play for the Kings, kids from my generation started playing the game and it's just taken off. That's why you are seeing players getting drafted, and there's more on the way through the development system.
McKeen's: With players like Colin Long, John Blum, and Mitch Wahl all playing in the WHL, was that a motivational factor for you to play up here?
McColgan: Yes, the year before I was drafted I came up here to watch a playoff game between Spokane and Vancouver, and John Blum was playing for the Giants and Mitch Wahl was playing for the Chiefs, and after watching the pace of the game, it really helped me decide that I wanted to play in this league.
McKeen's: What do you like to do in the off-season when you're not playing hockey?
McColgan: I live by the beach so I like to play volleyball, and hanging out with my friends and family. I also have to keep my training regiment in place in the off-season to stay in top shape.