Boston College rookie defenseman Nick Petrecki had a very solid first half before taking off in the second half. The San Jose Sharks first round draft pick has played in 40 games coming into the Frozen Four, posting 12 points (five goals, seven assists). Petrecki was outstanding in the NCAA Tournament Northeast Regional that included a goal in Boston College’s 4-3 overtime win over Miami in the regional finale. The outing earned him a spot on the All-regional team. But his most memorable performance came on Feb. 11 in the Beanpot Championship game against Harvard, where he posted his first two collegiate goals, including the overtime game-winner.
Hockey’s Future spoke with Petrecki after practice on Wednesday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
HF: The team is here for third straight year and this is your first Frozen Four, so what are your thoughts about being here?
NP: It’s very exciting. Two weekends ago in Worcester was very exciting, especially when Joe Whitney scored the overtime goal. So I’m definitely very excited to be here.
HF: You guys were very good in the first half, but then you guys really took off in the second half, so what do you feel happened?
NP: I don’t know if I could answer that. (Laughs) I think the biggest thing is that we’ve been playing as a team in the second half. Johnny Muse has really stepped up for us in net and gives us a chance to win every night. Gerbe is obviously playing really well and so is Smith. Everybody from the first line down to the fourth line has been playing really well.
HF: It seems like your own season has mirrored that of the team’s. What has it been about playing in the second half that has allowed you to really step things up? Because I know that you had played really well in the Beanpot as well as in the Dodge Holiday Classic in Minnesota.
NP: I don’t know. It’s kind of been that way for the last couple of years, just getting adjusted to the size and strength of the players in the league. It’s been an adjustment to how to play in the college game because it’s so different from playing in juniors. Definitely I’d have to say that the biggest thing is the confidence. I got my first couple of goals in the Beanpot and then the following night in the following weekend I got another goal. That just kind of boosted my confidence and guys kept talking to me about being confident.
HF: Take us through a little bit about the Beanpot.
NP: It’s still the highlight of my season and one of the highlights of my career so far. I’ve always wanted to play in that tournament and it was one of the reasons why I came to BC. To score the game winner and to get it (championship) for the seniors who’ve never had it was something very special.
HF: You mentioned confidence, was that the biggest thing for you personally as far as adjusting to the college game?
NP: I’d say that it was a little bit of everything. I’d say that the positives of playing in Hockey East has been that there’s a lot less travel so far and there’s much more practice time. It’s great, especially with Coach York and his staff having worked with me has been great so far. I think confidence is definitely a part of it, but I also think it’s developing through and adjusting to a 40-game schedule instead of a 60-game schedule, and practicing almost double of what I’ve been used to. It’s been great.
HF: The speed and the fact that you’re also playing against basically men had to factor into it as well.
NP: Oh yeah, definitely. That took me about eight or ten games to get used to, but once you get used to that and settle in then it’s great. And when you have good leaders on your team like Mike Brennan, and other guys that play the same position that you do that have been here throughout the last few years is also positive to have.
HF: You played for a great coach in Mike Hastings when you were at Omaha and of course you play for a great coach at Boston College in Jerry York. Can you tell me what the similarities and the differences are in playing for both coaches are?
NP: It’s very different. I wouldn’t say that I like one better than the other. The past years in Omaha have been more in-your-face, loud and a few swear words thrown in there. (Laughs) But at Boston College, it’s more laid back and coach puts it more in the leadership hands of seniors. So I would definitely say that the way the coaches come at you in winning and in defeat is a little bit different. Another thing that’s different is the way that the practices are run. At Boston College, I don’t want to say it’s easier but they’re more skilled-based and stuff like that. In Omaha, you did back skating a lot and some tough practices, which is tough with a 60-game schedule.
HF: Would you say perhaps that at Boston College it’s more structured as well?
NP: Well, they’re both very structured. In Omaha, it was one of the most structured places that I’ve ever lived and played in through two years, but it’s a different type of structure than what I have at Boston College. You’re developing within the college life now and so a lot of that structure is in your own hands and in the hands of the older guys that are on the team. In Omaha, it was just the one or two guys that have been there for a while and of course there was Coach Hastings.
HF: I know that you were a first round pick of San Jose. So what was it like for you having been drafted by a team like the Sharks?
NP: I didn’t really know anything about them. Going into the draft, they had me slotted around tenth or 15th or 20th. So that was very exciting. Before the draft, I had interviewed with a lot of teams, but not with San Jose though, so it was kind of a shock when they drafted me. But I’m very excited and they’re obviously having a great year this year. They have a good coach and a good scouting staff, and they develop defensemen so well.
HF: Well, they also draft a lot of high quality college players, like you.
NP: Oh definitely. Ron Wilson being a product of it (college hockey), so they definitely like the college system.
HF: What was the experience of last year’s prospect camp like for you?
NP: It was different. I thought that it was going to be more scrimmaging and stuff like that, but they’re really focused on skating, skill set and things like that. You can see why they do that because their young guys are doing good in the NHL because of their skill set and what they do at the camps.