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Go Beyond The Benches w/ Kyle Stroh
- Updated: July 31, 2014
Kyle Stroh has come a long way since those days growing up on the Canadian Prairies and developing a love for hockey. Stroh’s passion for the sport has brought him through college and into a promising professional career. The 25-year-old forward recently agreed to terms with the Florida Everblades, affiliate to the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes, after just one season with Rapid City where he posted 21 points.
Stroh was kind enough to take time and answer some questions for Beyond The Benches.
Beyond The Benches: You are from Saskatchewan where hockey is huge, when did you start playing and for whom?
Kyle Stroh: I started skating when I was 2 and playing hockey when I was 3 for my hometown Vibank Bruins.
BB: When you think back to those early days can you describe a few moments that made you realize you loved the game and it was something that you wanted to pursue?
KS: To think of any specific moments is difficult but growing up in the Canadian Prairies hockey is in your blood and I couldn’t think of anything else that I would want to do. As a kid growing up skating on ponds every day in the winter until you couldn’t feel your toes or fingers and then going home and drinking hot chocolate was just a way of life for me. Those are the moments that make you fall in love with the game.
BB: When you were just 18-years-old you started playing for the Estevan Bruins of the SJHL and in your second year you scored 30 goals and over 50 points. How did your time in Estevan Bruins help you develop your offensive game?
KS: Along with hard work I was very fortunate to be put in situations that allowed me to be offensive, also playing alongside great players help me get points.
BB: Lots of players go into Juniors with the hope of entering and getting selected in the draft but you went the college route. Can you explain what went into your decision to go to school rather than pursuing a professional career right away?
KS: To be completely honest I was a late bloomer and didn’t really have the option of getting drafted, so college was really the only option in store for me and it was the best decision I have ever made. The combination of being able to play an elite level of hockey and get a great education is very enticing.
BB: St. Norbert College was coming off a division 3 national championship when you decided to go there. How much did the opportunity to be in an established winning program at St. Norbert influence your decision to go there?
KS: I was extremely honored when St. Norbert recruited me; they had won a national championship in 2008 and a winning attitude is something every player considers when choosing the right school. The school itself is also very prestigious which was a big factor in choosing St. Norbert.
BB: Coach Tim Coghlin has a strong reputation for winning and getting the most out of his players. In what ways did being coached by him help you further develop as a player?
KS: Cogs has a unique way of coaching and he does get the most out of his players which is the sign of a great coach. The coaching staff at St. Norbert knew that I had offensive abilities and always pushed me to be better but he really developed me into being more defensive along with still having an offensive touch.
BB: At St. Norbert you appeared in three division 3 national title games. How has that experience playing in big games helped you down the road?
KS: Being able to play in 3 national championship games was an absolute honor. The biggest way it has helped me is to really embrace the opportunity of being able to play in those kinds of games because there are a select few that get to play in those games when everyone else is wishing that they could be playing in the big games. In more of a hockey sense once you get a taste of playing in those games and winning you never lose that taste and you always want to win. Also having experience in a big game allows you to be calm in the most intense situations.
BB: Following your final season at St. Norbert in 2012-13 you went straight to the Rapid City Rush of the CHL to play in playoffs. Was being able to get into a playoff game and get a point in a professional hockey league a confidence boost as you transitioned into a higher level of competition?
KS: I wouldn’t really say it was a confidence booster; it was more just about the experience and getting to know what the pros is all about and adjusting to the style of play.
BB: Can you give a few of the biggest differences between playing in the college level and playing in a professional league like the CHL?
KS: The two biggest differences from college to pro that I found were the timing and space. In college it can be erratic at times with players going 100 miles an hour everywhere and putting themselves out of position rather than picking your spots and being in the right positions and the right time.
BB: You recently signed with the Florida Everblades in the ECHL, what were some of the deciding factors that led you to change leagues and play with the Blades?
KS: Three factors that led me to signing with the Blades were that they have been top contenders in the league for a long time and have won a championship and know what it takes to win. Secondly, they have two affiliates so there is opportunity for advancement, and lastly signing with the Blades allows me to embark on new and exciting adventure and we can’t forget the Florida weather!
BB: Everblades head coach Greg Poss recently stated in an interview he was looking to recruit you two seasons ago, why did you not sign with the Blades at that time?
KS: I didn’t sign with the Blades at that time because an opportunity had presented itself before and I had already made a committed but I am extremely excited to now be a part of the Blades organization.
BB: The Everblades are coming off their first season in team history to not make playoffs, how do you plan to use your style of play to make sure that does not happen again?
KS: Being a two way player, I plan to be reliable defensively, use my size and strength to be physical, and to contribute offensively.
BB: What are the expectations that you have for the upcoming season with the Blades and what do you want to accomplish?
KS: The expectation that I have for the upcoming season is to contribute in any way that I can to the team’s success.
BB: Are you excited to be able to play in a southern state like Florida and be able to escape the biter winters? What do you plan to do with your off time?
KS: To say that I am excited is an understatement, to not have to withstand – 40 degree winters and blizzards will be an absolute treat. I am an avid golfer so I would like to spend a lot of my free time on the course but also see what else Florida has to offer.
BB: You have progressed pretty rapidly from college through the CHL and are now starting a career in the ECHL. Is the ultimate goal to work your way to the NHL or AHL? If so, what do you need to improve to make that goal a reality?
KS: I think I speak for every hockey player when I say that the ultimate goal is to make it to the NHL but a step like that doesn’t happen overnight. I just need to keep improving every aspect of my game and work hard each and every day and give myself the best chance to make a dream a reality.
BB: Where do you want your career to be in about five years from now?
KS: In five years from now I want to still be playing an elite level of hockey and having fun doing it.
Stroh has been a success wherever he has played in the past, come October we will see if success follows him to the Florida Everblades.
(Photo Credit: Kyle Stroh on Instagram)