Q&A with Will Colbert

By Jason Ahrens

Will Colbert, captain of the Ottawa 67s, was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the seventh round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, 228th overall. Colbert was the 67s scholastic player of the year in 2003-04 as well as being voted the third best defensive defenseman in the Eastern Conference Coaches Poll the same year.

The 6’2 190-pound defenseman is primarily a stay at homer and a good penalty killer, seeing some time on the second power play unit as well. Colbert registered 32 points in 68 games in what was likely his last junior season and he had the second best plus/minus ranking on the team, with a +22. He was named to Team OHL in the Canada-Russia Challenge Series.

Colbert had 11 points in 21 playoff games this postseason, helping Ottawa to the OHL final. Ottawa moved on to the Memorial Cup where they defeated the Kelowna Rockets 3-2 in double overtime in the longest game in Memorial Cup history. They then lost to Rimouski 4-3 and to London 5-2 but advanced to the semi-final game on Saturday against Rimouski.

When asked about playing against Sidney Crosby at the Memorial Cup, Colbert replied, “You can’t just let him run around. I think he would have even more points in this tournament if people weren’t hitting him so much. His linemates complement him really well and that whole line is very dangerous.”

On how the 67s match up against Rimouski, Colbert said, “We only played our best in the third period so I think we are going to talk about it tomorrow and hopefully it goes well on Saturday.”

Ottawa had a chance to advance directly to the Memorial Cup final if they had beaten London by more than one goal. When it was pointed out that 11 of the previous 12 Memorial Cup champions had received that bye to the final Colbert said, “Well we would have liked the day off on Saturday too, but that just the way it is and we’ll have to do it the hard way, it seems like we have done that all year.”

Hockey’s Future caught up to Colbert after the loss to London in the last game of the round robin.

HF: You guys had a great start but faded as the game went on. It seems like you haven’t been able to put together 60 minutes all tournament, but if you do, you can obviously win this thing. How frustrating has this been?

WC: Yeah we are used to it; that is the way it has been all year, we are so inconsistent. But if we put 60 minutes together against Rimouski we are going to have a better outcome than we did on Tuesday. We were close at the start but they started to pull away from us. When the game really got going we took some stupid penalties and that is what really killed us.

HF: How big of a disadvantage is it to play in the semi-final game and then turn around if you win and play the well rested host team in a loud rink the next day?

WC: It’s hard to do, especially when you play on Saturday and you are going to have to come in and play them on Sunday, but it’s doable. The main thing to do is stay out of the box.

HF: Tonight you guys played a good physical period in the first but then strayed away from it in the second and that cost you.

WC: We seemed to be taking some penalties when we were playing rough so that kind of put us down and that turned the game around right there.

HF: It seems like all tournament the puck has been bouncing around like a tennis ball, how bad is the ice out there?

WC: I’ve played on better ice.

HF: What is the hardest thing about playing a team like London?

WC: I think their depth, they can throw all-star guys at you on the first and second lines and they play their systems really well.

HF: You were the first ever 67s player to be drafted by the Senators. Since you play in the city do they give you regular feedback on your development?

WC: I’ve talked to them the odd time, but they have been letting me do my thing in the playoffs, just lead my team and that is what they want me to do.

HF: Did the 67s hold a rookie camp last summer and how did it go for you?

WC: They did, and it went good. We played a rookie tournament in Montreal and I played in four games.

HF: Can you tell me a bit about what it is like to play for a hockey legend like Coach Brian Kilrea?

WC: Intense. He has some good flow practices and he wants the best from us every time that we step on the ice.

HF: What do you need to work on to move to the next level?

WC: Lots of things, moving the puck crisper and better; seeing the ice better is a big part of it and being more physical.

HF: Did you have any major influences as a player growing up?

WC: I had some good ones, my first real coach back in Arnprior was Derek Clark, and he got me going. He actually gave me the C when I was younger. There were some good days then, we had a good team, you know, back when you went to the rink at seven in the morning; we had some good times and I’ll remember those days for sure.

HF: Have you had time to enjoy the event of the Memorial Cup or have you been focused on hockey every day?

WC: Well, we weren’t sure that we were going to play hockey or not when we first got here. There was the concert on Thursday, the banquet Friday and we finally got to hockey on Saturday and we watched that game and we were excited to get going on Sunday that was for sure.

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.