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Hockey's Future caught up with Kyle Rau after practice last Wednesday at the Tampa Times Forum.
Hockey's Future: How does it feel to be playing in your first Frozen Four?
Kyle Rau: It's awesome! It's fun just to be down here in Tampa playing in the Frozen Four. It's been great so far and I'm just looking forward to the tournament getting started.
HF: I've got to ask you. Did you guys take a page out of Minnesota-Duluth's playbook in dying your hair blond for the Frozen Four?
KR: (Laughs) No, no. It was just something that our seniors decided was necessary. So we all went along with it.
HF: You've been having a great season with Minnesota. Can you talk about how you've been able to make that relatively quick transition to the college game?
KR: It's been fun coming to Minnesota and playing with Nick (Bjugstad) and Zach (Budish). I think it's really helped me to transition to the college game playing with those guys. We've been playing together for the whole year and that's been huge in creating chemistry with those guys. Playing on our power play has really helped me a lot too. I think those are the two things that have helped me the most in transitioning to the college game.
HF: In watching you this year, one of the things that I've noticed is that you seem to be able to score goals in a variety of ways. Would say that you're a "creative" offensive player?
KR: Well, I try to be creative. Being a smaller guy, I have to find different ways of getting to the net because obviously that's where the goals are scored. I think the main thing for me is to just find some open ice in front of the net.
HF: How would you describe yourself as a player?
KR: I think I'm a player that gets to the net and tries to get to the dirty areas. I also enjoy mixing it up with the other guys too.
HF: Can you talk about the physical wear and tear of your first NCAA season and whether it has worn you down at all?
KR: I think it (grind of the season) does get long, but the coaches here at Minnesota do a good job of giving us Sundays off, easier practices on Monday, tough practices on Tuesday and then just kind of tapering it down as the week goes on before the weekend games. So it does get tough and long, but it is so worth it.
HF: You had played at the World Junior Championship earlier this year. Can you talk about the experience of playing in it and what were you able to learn from being there that you've been able to bring back to Minnesota with you?
KR: It was so much fun playing against the best kids in the world. And having it in Canada, it was such a big deal up there. It was a great experience and something that I'll always remember. I think the biggest thing that I was able to bring back to Minnesota with me was confidence, knowing that I could play with those guys and playing against the best college players too. It was just nice to know that I belonged there.
HF: The Florida Panthers drafted you last summer. How does it feel being a part of that organization and have they been keeping tabs on you this season?
KR: It was awesome being drafted by Florida. They were one of the teams that I talked to before the draft and was one of the teams that I felt most comfortable with. The Panthers have been great and they've been staying in contact with me. They just check to see how I'm doing. In fact, I got a call from them over the weekend wishing me good luck in the Frozen Four. Some of them from the team are coming here to Tampa this week to watch me and Nick. It's nice having Nick here because he was drafted by Florida too, and it's nice knowing that we may be able to play together again one day with Florida.
HF: Did you attend their prospects camp last summer?
KR: No, I didn't go last summer. But I do plan to go this summer.