I’m not stalling on the Lombardi stuff… it’s just a hectic day at the office and it takes a while to get the Lombardi stuff in publishable form. Until then, you can read another great interview from Don, this one with Bud Holloway. Thank again to Don for tracking these guys down!
Bud Holloway had a break-out regular season for the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, and that success has carried over into the team’s post season.
Holloway, a third round selection (86th overall) for the Kings in the 2006 draft, led the T-Birds in scoring with 83 points and 43 goals in the regular season, including a whopping 16 points in the team’s final nine regular season games, a feat that landed him with player of the month honors for March. He had four goals and four assists in the first round series against the Kelowna Rockets that Seattle won in seven games.
Holloway, 20, took a few minutes before the start Seattle’s second round series against the league’s top team, the Tri-City Americans on Friday. He spoke about what it takes continually improve his game, scoring goals in retaliation for a cheap shot, and the joys of riding the bus in the Western Hockey League.
Q&A with Bud Holloway
Question: You had to have been pretty excited to play in, and win a game seven in the playoffs?
Holloway: It came right down to the wire in that series. It was kind of odd how the first couple of games went, they took two from us and then we went up there and took two from them. We never really got too high or too low in the series, and in game seven we knew what it came down to and we just went out there and threw our best at them and got it done.
Question: How do you see things playing-out in the next round against Tri City?
Holloway: We beat them a couple of times in the regular season – we lost to them a couple of times too – they finished with the most points in the league, so they have a good squad. I think we have a pretty good chance against them.
Question: Does being the underdog in the series take some of the pressure off?
Holloway: I think being one of the lowest seeded teams left means we can go out there and just throw our best out and if they beat us by playing better than us, well, that happens, but we’re not going to take a back seat by any means.
Question: I have to think the long bus ride from Seattle to Kennewick was a little sweeter after winning a game seven.
Holloway: There was definitely a light atmosphere in the room and the guys are very upbeat and ready to go in this series.
Question: You guys must take a heck of a lot of bus rides during the season.
Holloway: Oh yeah. Every road game is a bus ride, most of them about 30 minutes. We took a shuttle up to Everett so that wasn’t so bad.
Question: The stats do not lie – we are seeing some steady improvement in your game from season to season. How has your overall game developed in this last season?
Holloway: I really just tried to work on bringing it very night and having that consistency that everyone wants. I thought I had a bit better start to my season than I did last year and I had great linemates throughout the year and we really gelled as a line. They really helped me. I was rewarded with quite a few points by the end of the season, but like I said, it was really about coming out every night to play and I think that really helped me.
Question: You had an incredible month of March that ultimately landed you player of the month honors. You have to feel good that when the season matter the most you turned up your game a notch.
Holloway: That last month is the only chance you have to get better before the playoffs, and you want to be playing your best hockey when that first playoff game rolls around. I just kept going and I didn’t really think about it too much and I was surprised as heck when they told me I was named player of the month. It was definitely an honor and a nice thing to have.
Question: Do you feel added pressure to be the “go-to” guy as the team’s top scorer?
Holloway: I actually kind of like it. I’m on one of the top lines and we’re counted on to get a couple of goals to spark the team, but right now the way things have worked out, all three of our lines that are going, I think we have one guy from each line included in the post season top scorers. Right now we have a really rounded attack and it’s great.
Question: Looks like coach has you on both the power play and the penalty kill. Do you have a preference one over the other?
Holloway: Being on the power play is obviously a lot of fun, but I like getting out there on the PK. I’ve had the same partner on the PK all season and we go out there and look at it as a chance to get some momentum for the boys and just go out there and work hard and we’ve been very successful at killing penalties this year.
Question: How was your health this season?
Holloway: I suffered a concussion on kind of a late hit in Vancouver in January and I was back two games later.
Question: Sounds like it was a cheap shot.
Holloway: Yeah, I kind of moved the puck and probably about five seconds later I got blindsided with a shot to the head.
Question: Did anyone retaliate?
Holloway: I think they took him off the ice right away, but I’m not too sure. I was laying passed-out on the ice (laughs).
Question: But you’re okay now. Please tell me this has a happy ending and you retaliated on the score sheet the next time you played Vancouver?
Holloway: We played against them later on and I ended up having two goals against them, so that felt pretty nice to get a little revenge on the score sheet.
Question: As one of the team leaders, do you do anything in particular to get the team pumped-up and ready for a playoff game?
Holloway: Everyone is pretty good at bringing that focus to the rink and I think a lot of guys that are playing quite a bit will sit by themselves and go over the game in their heads, while other guys like to be light, passing the roll of tape around to stay loose and not tie themselves up in knots. Everyone kind of has their own routine.
Question: Are you one of those players who visualize your first shift, first power play, first shot on goal before the game?
Holloway: Not really, I just kind of think about how I’ve had success at the rink before or against a team and don’t really try and picture the game too much. I just think about what I’m going to do and how I’m going to impact the game.
Question: I recently compiled a list of top prospects in the Kings’ pipeline and somehow overlooked your name. My bad there, but does it kind of seem like you are the organization’s best kept secret?
Holloway: I’m not sure about that, there’s obviously a lot of great players in the organization. I haven’t really looked too much in to it. I’m just trying to do what I can here and hope that it takes care of itself at a later date.
Question: Do the Kings keep in touch with you throughout the season, and if so, what do you guys talk about?
Holloway: A couple of guys definitely check in with you to talk about how your game is going give you some advice about what you need to work on, and that’s always great to have.
Question: Is it typically advice you can apply to your game right away or store it for later?
Holloway: It depends on what it is. I did some video with Mike O’Connell and it was all stuff that was really great to find areas that I need to improve and you can always apply that in practice and it carries over to the game.
Question: Do you feel like your game is about ready for NHL-level of play?
Holloway: I don’t know about that. I’m not going to be the one who decides that (laughs). I’m going to worry about myself and how things are going right now and hopefully one day I’ll make an appearance.