Monday, July 19, 2010

A few minutes with…Jeff Hazelwood

The former Las Vegas Wrangler talks about signing with the Brahmas and what he hopes to bring to the ice in 2010-11

Jeff Hazelwood loved living and playing ice hockey in Las Vegas, but now he's looking forward to his second pro season in North Richland Hills. The Texas Brahmas announced his signing last Friday.

Hazelwood, who turns 25 on Saturday, was a standout at Curry College, leading all scorers in his senior year with 25 goals, and 23 assists in 27 games. In 53 games over his junior and senior years, Hazelwood posted 43 goals and 93 points. In 2009, he was named the ECAC Northeast Player of the Year. He was also honored as the school's Male Athlete of the Year as well as the New England Hockey Writers Association ECAC Northeast MVP. Younger brother Alec has followed in his footsteps and will be entering his sophomore year at Curry College where he also plays forward.

Hazelwood signed with the Las Vegas Wranglers (ECHL) for his rookie season and put up 20 points (8 G, 12 A) and 18 penalty minutes in 53 games played. He received a qualifying offer from the team for the upcoming season, making him one of eight protected players, but opted instead to join the Brahmas’ quest for a second CHL championship.

I spoke to Jeff today at his family home in Dublin, California. Here is our conversation.

Q: How did you decide on the Brahmas as the next stop in your pro career?

A: I spoke with my agent and he had a pretty good relationship with the coaching staff there at Texas, so thought that it would be a great place for me to play next season and after talking to the coaching staff, it sounded like it would be a great fit. I’m excited. I’m excited to get the hockey season going.

Q: You had a good reputation as a player both at St. Norbert and at Curry College and then for your rookie season, you get the opportunity to play out in Las Vegas…how cool was that?

A: Playing my first year pro in Vegas – you couldn’t beat it; it was a great time. I’ve always loved the city of Las Vegas. There’s so much there to do; you know, I figured for my hockey career, I had to go somewhere different and Texas seems to be the right place but as far as Vegas, it’s a great place…

Q: You had decent numbers throughout your collegiate career and during your rookie season as well. I know the Brahmas coaches see your potential for a real breakout season…what do you think your biggest asset is to bring to the team?

A: I think the biggest thing I can bring to the team is my speed. I’ve always been known for how good my speed is and I think that can translate into a lot of offensive opportunities for me. I believe this can be a break out year for me. I’ve really trained hard this summer and I have a strong focus on what I need to do there in Texas…my game is all offense and I think I can really bring that this year. I think that’s my big thing; my speed, my play-making abilities and hopefully I be putting the puck in the net.

Q: I wanted to ask you a little about your off-season regimen and your work ethic. What are you doing to keep in shape for the summer?

A: For the off-season, I’m usually on the ice about three to four times a week; I try to get on the ice as much as possible. I usually go to the gym about six days a week for about an hour-and-a-half to two hours. My little Brother is actually a freshman at Curry College and he’s back here for the summer too so he and I actually train together which makes it nice – it’s a lot easier to go with him than someone else. We’ve put together a good workout program and we work out as much as possible. I think that this year coming up is a big year for me. I’ve really been working hard this summer and I’ve been trying to do things differently for training and I think it’ll pay off.

Q: Looking at your game, where would you like to see the most improvement this season?

A: I think for me personally, this year I really want to be a complete player. Everybody knows that I’m an offensive player but I also want to show people that I can be a two-way player. I think that’s my biggest thing.

Photo Credit: Las Vegas Wranglers

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