Minnesota native Derek Forbort excited to play in front of family at Frozen Four

By DJ Powers
Photo: Defenseman Derek Forbort has had a strong freshman season for the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

Despite having yet to score his first collegiate career goal, Derek Forbort (LA) has been enjoying a solid freshman campaign at the University of North Dakota this season. To date, he has played in 37 games, posting 15 assists. Hockey’s Future caught up with Forbort after practice on Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN.

Hockey’s Future: Being a Minnesota kid and playing on college hockey’s biggest stage right here in Minnesota has to feel pretty good.

Derek Forbort: Yeah, it’s really cool. I’ve got a lot of family coming down to see me play, so it’ll be really fun. I’m excited.

HF: I know that you and Ben (Blood) have been playing together for most of the season and the two of you seem to have some real good chemistry together. What is like playing with him and what makes the chemistry work between the two of you?

DF: It’s been great. Ben’s older and he’s a great player. He’s shown me the ropes and kind of took me under his wing. So it’s just been a great pairing together.

HF: One of the things that I’ve noticed in watching you play this season is the fact that you’ve added some more grit to your game. Is that something that you’ve worked at to help improve your overall game?

DF:
Yeah, and I think it’s one of the things that also comes with being a Fighting Sioux player as well. The mentality here is that you play hard and you play tough.

HF:
What is it like playing for Coach Hakstol and what are some of the greatest things that he has taught you this year?

DF: It’s been great playing for him because he knows so much about the game. He’s taught me about how to do all of the little things to enable me to play good, tough defensive hockey.

HF: What was the experience like playing with Team USA at the World Juniors and what have you been able to bring back to North Dakota from the experience?

DF: It was a great experience. I think what I was able to bring back is just the experience of playing on a big stage because it doesn’t get much bigger than the World Juniors. I think it also prepared me for this stage (Frozen Four) as well.

HF:
I’d like to go back to last summer’s NHL Draft. Can you talk about that moment when you were drafted by the host Los Angeles Kings?

DF:
Sure, it was pretty crazy. It wasn’t something that I was expecting when it happened, but it was the best feeling in the world.

HF: Did you have any idea that Los Angeles was looking to draft you?

DF: No, not really. I had some good interviews with them, but nothing that would indicate that they might be drafting me. So I was kind of surprised.

HF: Were you at their Prospects Camp over the summer?

DF
: Yes

HF: What was it like and what did learn from it that has helped you at North Dakota this season?

DF: It was pretty tough. They work you hard there and you get better hockey (competition) there too. It was a lot of fun and a good experience. I got a taste of what it takes to get to that (pro) level as well, so it was good.

HF: Are you planning to attend this summer’s camp?

DF: Yes, I’m planning on it.

HF: I know that it’s probably the furthest thing from your mind right now, but how long do you plan to stay at North Dakota?

DF: To be honest, I don’t know because it’ll be a joint decision between me and the organization. Also, I want to be able to talk to my family and coaches here at North Dakota about it as well when the time comes.

HF:
Has Los Angeles been keeping tabs on your progress throughout the year?

DF: Yes, I’ve talked to them a few times but nothing too involved. They sort of leave me alone and let me do what I need to do here at North Dakota.

HF: How would you describe yourself and what will you be able to bring to Los Angeles in the future?

DF: I think I’m just a smart, good all-around defender. I like to play defense first, make good passes out of the zone and jump up into the play whenever I can, so it’s just a lot of everything.