Getting To Know... Kyle Mountain
Kyle Mountain, a native of Bryn Mawr, PA, played three seasons with the New Hampshire Monarchs, part of the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL). In 89 games, he scored 31 goals and 31 assists for a total of 62 points. He spent last season in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with the Penticton Vees, where he recorded 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 69 games. This fall, he’ll start at the University of Vermont (the alma mater of current NHL-ers Tim Thomas and Marty St. Louis). Kyle took some time to talk to me about his decision to attend UVM, some of his favorite players in the game to watch, and what it was like to be invited to Flyers prospect camp last summer.
First off, congratulations on being accepted to UVM! Are you excited to start a new chapter of your life?
As much as I love junior hockey, I'm really excited about getting to school next year. Being able to play college hockey is something I've dreamed about for a long time, so the fact that I'm going to be doing that next is amazing.
Why UVM over any other college?
UVM really appeals to me in a lot of different ways, not only as a hockey player, but as a student and person as well. I didn't want to go to a school just because they had a good hockey team. I wanted to be somewhere I'd enjoy and have the chance to get a great education. UVM is a strong school academically, so that was obviously a really big factor. In terms of hockey, it's pretty much everything I could ask for. It’s been somewhat of a dream of mine to play in Hockey East because I know I'll be playing against some of the best teams in the country week in and week out for the next four years, and with that being said, development was a big part of my decision, too. I want to become a better player during my time in college so I can move on to the next level, and playing for Coach Sneddon at UVM will allow me to do that.
With UVM alumni such as Tim Thomas and Marty St. Louis, do you feel like you have some big shoes to fill?
I don't exactly look at it that way. I feel a lot of pride knowing I'll be going somewhere so many great players once played, so I look at it more as an opportunity to do what they've done. They've proven that UVM is a program that can develop players into pros, so I feel excited knowing that.
Speaking of players like Thomas and St. Louis, who do you think is the most fun player to watch in the game right now?
My idea of an exciting player is probably a little different than most people's. I know everyone loves to watch guys like Ovechkin because of all the flash, and he definitely is fun to watch, but I love watching guys like Blair Betts, Nate Thompson, Johan Franzen, Manny Malholtra - guys that are really complete players. I guess it's because those are the guys I model my game after, but a guy blocking a shot on the penalty kill or a guy winning a d-zone faceoff in the third period of a one-goal game is just as exciting to me as a coast-to-coast goal. However, I will say Datsyuk was amazing to watch during this years playoffs, except some of the things he does make me want to quit hockey - he's just that good.
Let’s get serious for a few moments here. Last summer, you received a phone call from the Flyers, inviting you to come to their prospect camp. Describe how you felt when you got that call, and what that opportunity meant to you.
Getting a call from the Flyers was amazing. I've been cheering for them and going to their games since I was a little kid, so being invited to their prospect camp was really cool. The opportunity was great because I was able to get some great exposure and also compare myself to players who were in college, major junior, and the AHL. I've used that camp as kind of a measuring stick for where I am and where I need to be, so the experience has helped me grow a lot as a player.
Was there anyone in particular you met at camp that has had a lasting effect on you?
I think the coaches left a pretty big impression, because they gave me a good idea of what I need to do if I want to continue to move on. They gave me a lot of tips regarding the differences between the NHL and leagues under it, so I've been able to focus a lot on these things and work on them.
You spent last season with the Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). The team made you an offer without asking you to try out. What did that mean to you, and what do you think was the biggest lesson you took away from that experience?
I was heading into my 20-year-old year without a college commitment, so getting a call from the Vees was really exciting. I knew what a great program Penticton had, and I knew that Coach Harbinson had great relationships with a lot of great schools. The fact that they wanted to give me a spot on the team without having to tryout was as good of an opportunity as I could ever ask for. Penticton traditionally has one of the best junior programs in North America, so it was a no-brainer to make the move out there. I wouldn't say there was one particular lesson I brought out of it, but rather the whole experience was just amazing. The BCHL allowed me to play great hockey all year, and I definitely became a better player - which was the goal. On top of that, being able to play junior hockey in Canada was really special. It was an experience I'll never forget, and I feel really lucky for being given the opportunity.
Between prospect camp, your season with the Vees, and your time with the Monarchs, what is the most important thing you’ve learned?
Through all of these experiences, I think the most important thing I've learned is what it takes to keep moving on. My goal is to play at the highest level possible, so being able to continually get better is really important. Also, I've been able to really identify what type of game I want to play over the past few years, which has helped me grow as a player.
Hockey players deal with injuries, stress, and all sorts of other issues throughout a season. What drives you, personally, to push past the obstacles, the aches and pains, and anything else that may be in your way so that you can continue to play the game and play it well?
I'd say two things really drive me. The first, of course, is my goal to become a pro hockey player. Any player knows how hard it is to play this game, especially as you move to higher and higher levels, but the guys who can fight through it are the ones that ultimately move on. Also, just being on a team and wanting to win drives me. Between those two things, it's usually pretty easy to find motivation to work through and pain or obstacles that are impossible to avoid.
Alright, time for a little more fun. You get to put together a group of starters, and can choose from any current player. Who do you choose? How about all-time players?
That's a tough one. I'd think for current players, I'd have Crosby in the middle, Jerome Iginla on the right and Henrik Zetterberg on the left. All three of these guys can play two-way hockey. On defense I'd have Nick Lidstrom and Shea Weber, then in net I'd have Ryan Miller. For an all-time team, I'd have Gretzky centering Rick Tocchet and Gino Odjick - Gretter would just skate around scoring goals while Tocc and Gino fought everyone in sight. On the blue line, I'd have to go with Lidstrom again and Ray Bourque. In net, I'd have Ron Hextall - the guy could stop the puck, score goals and fight with the best of them.
Put yourself on your dream line. What players are beside you?
Rod Bind'Amour would have to be on the line. He is my favorite player ever, so I'd want him more than anyone. I'd probably go with Datsyuk as my other liney just so I could stand there and drool while I watch him.
Do you have any superstitions or pre-game rituals?
Pre-game naps are huge, probably my favorite part about playing hockey. There is literally nothing better than a pre-game nap. After my nap, I have 6 scrambled eggs and toast for a pre-game meal. I try to get to the rink at least 2 hours before the game and I take a lot of time to warm up - I try to break a good sweat and get really loose. I wouldn't say I'm too superstitious. I just try to focus myself, get my body feeling right, and just play. I did have a secret handshake with one of my teammates this year that we'd do in the tunnel before the game, but that's about as much ritual as I could take!
Lastly, what has been the coolest moment for you throughout your hockey career thus far? Be it someone you’ve met, a game you’ve played, or any other experience you may have had.
I'd say being able to live in British Columbia has been the coolest thing for me. It was an amazing opportunity, and I had the time of my life out there. Being able to play hockey in Canada is pretty special, and it's something I'll never forget.