Joey Hishon hopes OHL playoff success carries over to Memorial Cup

By John Canario
Photo: Joey Hishon is a feisty two-way center currently playing for the Owen Sound Attack. He is expected to compete for a spot with the Colorado Avalanche next fall. (Photo courtesy of www.ontariohockeyleague.com)

With the 17th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Colorado Avalanche selected Joey Hishon of the Owen Sound Attack. The Stratford, Ontario-native was somewhat of a surprising pick having been ranked 55th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, but if his 2010-11 campaign is any indication of what is to come, the undersized pivot is well on his way to justifying his early selection.

In his fourth OHL season, Hishon tallied 37 goals and 50 assists in just 50 games. He also attained a career high in penalty minutes with 64 and was plus-16. His offensive prowess carried into the OHL playoffs, as the slick center notched five goals and 19 assists in 22 games as the Owen Sound Attack won their first ever J. Ross Robertson Cup. Hishon is a strong skater, blessed with great hands. He is equally adept as a shooter and a playmaker.

Hockey’s Future caught up with him prior to the start of the 2011 Memorial Cup in Mississauga.

Hockey’s Future: How did you feel that your 2011 OHL campaign went?

Joey Hishon: Really good I think. You know I missed a few games at the start of the season with a hand injury but since then I’ve been 100 percent healthy. I missed a few games to a suspension later in the year but other than that, I played pretty well so I think it was a successful year for me.

HF: Congratulations on your recent OHL Championship. How do you think it will differ playing in the Memorial Cup as opposed to the OHL playoffs?

JH: Thanks. Yeah, I think the Mem Cup is obviously one of the biggest tournaments in the world and one of the hardest trophies to win in all of sports, so I think everyone’s going to be pretty motivated coming in and I’m sure the intensity level will be very high in every game.

HF: Looking back at the start of your OHL career in 2007-08 and where you are now, how would you say that you have improved as a player?

JH: I think my defensive game as improved a lot. That’s something when I came in to the league, I hadn’t previously learned too much about because I came out of double-A hockey; I never played triple-A. Our coach Mark Reeds has done an unbelievable job teaching me defense first and that side of the game, so I think I’ve improved a lot in that respect, but I recognize that there is still room to get better.

HF: How does it feel to be property of the Colorado Avalanche?

JH: Yeah, that’s a huge honor. Just for any NHL team to have drafted me – I would have been very excited to start my career and get my foot in the door with any organization. But Colorado is definitely very special and I’m very thankful they drafted me.

HF: Which NHL player, past or present, would you say that you model your game after?

JH: I’ve heard comparisons to Derek Roy (BUF) and Bryan Little (ATL). Those two players are quite exceptional and to be mentioned in the same sentece as them is very honoring. If I can become half the player they are today I think I’ll have a successful career. They’re both unbelievable players.

HF: To whom do you give credit to for your successful hockey career so far?

JH: Let’s see: my mom and dad first of all have been unbelievable, all my uncles, my grandparents – everyone’s been very supportive throughout my whole career. Everyone in the community of Stratford has played a huge part in getting me to where I am today.

HF: Was there ever a point during your career when you realized that you would be in the upper-tier of players in the OHL?

JH: I don’t know, I think everything just kind of happened really fast. To be one of the better players in the OHL is defnitely very honoring – it’s one of the best junior leagues in the world, so it is a huge honor.

HF: Would you consider yourself a gym rat?

JH: (Laughs) More of a rink rat than a gym rat I’d say. I work hard in the summers but I wouldn’t say I’m a gym rat.

HF: What’s your go-to exercise in the gym?

JH: I like the chin-ups. If you ask anyone about me in the gym they’ll usually say you can find me at the chin-up bar.

HF: What’s on your iPod right now?

JH: I’ve got a huge variety of stuff. The majority is country music. I’m in love with Carrie Underwood – she’s unbelievable.

HF: What’s the last movie you saw?

JH: Last night actually, we were watching Rush Hour 2 in the hotel.

HF: How do you kill time on the bus when you’re on the road?

JH: I’ve got a baseball game on my iPod Touch that’s pretty fun so I play that almost non-stop.

HF: Who was your favorite team growing up?

JH: Believe it or not, the Toronto Maple Leafs were my favorite team growing up, but it’s defnitely Colorado now.

HF: What’s your favorite shoot-out move?

JH: I’d say shot low-glove.

HF: What’s your favorite NHL goal of all-time?

JH: Pavel Datsyuk’s breakaway move on Turco – that stands out in my mind.

HF: Do you recall your first OHL goal?

JH: Yes, it was in my second OHL game against Sault St. Marie. I’m not sure who the goalie was but I remember the goal and it wasn’t very pretty.

HF: What plans do you have for the summer?

JH: I’m going to train very hard and wherever Colorado tells me to go or what they want me to do, I’ll do that and just train hard for next year.