Drafted by the Dallas Stars with the 42nd overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, much was expected out of Marius Holtet. Drafted on the strength of his 2001 and 2002 U18 World Junior Championships for Team Norway and an appearance for Team Norway at the 2002 World Junior Championship, Holtet has since played two more World Junior Championships for Team Norway, two seasons of senior hockey in Sweden, a season of AHL hockey with the Houston Aeros in 2004-05, and now finds himself with the Iowa Stars.
The 21-year-old right winger has seen his role expand with the Stars new AHL affiliate. He’s killing penalties regularly and has consistently displayed a strong effort all season forechecking, backchecking, and finishing his checks. The hustling Holtet has also shown some of the offensive skill that he demonstrated with Team Norway, including a hard shot that he can snipe from time to time. With a little more discipline positionally, Holtet just might become the next Norwegian in the NHL.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Holtet after a 4-3 shootout victory of the Chicago Wolves Dec. 10 in which the Stars prospect scored an important shootout goal that kept Iowa in the shootout and allowed Edmonton Oilers prospect Yan Stastny to seal the deal.
Hockey’s Future: Tell me about your shootout goal.
Marius Holtet: I made up my mind before I came to the goalie and I didn’t want to make the same mistake that I made before, so I just didn’t even want to give him a clue what I was going to do and just snap it. That’s what I did and, lucky for me, it went in.
HF: It seems like you’re seeing more and more ice time as the year goes on, tell me what you’ve been working on this year.
MH: My positioning in the game and awareness is one of the biggest things I’ve got to work on. I feel like I’ve been improving on it a little and hopefully I’ll keep improving on it. So, that’s probably one of my biggest weaknesses in the game.
HF: What do you think your strengths are?
MH: My skating probably. After that I would say that my strength and shot.
HF: I’ve noticed on top of your speed you seem to hustle a lot and finish your checks, is that something you’ve done your whole life?
MH: I started doing that since I started to play senior hockey [in Sweden], and that was one of my roles in my first year as a senior. Here [in North America] you’ve got to do it to play, and this is a physical kind of game, so you’ve got to finish your checks and try and do your best.
HF: At what point did you decide to leave Norway and play in Sweden?
MH: We’ve got a different system in the schools there. Somewhere between high school and college I left to go to Sweden for three years and to go to school there, kind of like a hockey school. Hockey in Sweden is so much bigger than in Norway, so it’s easier to go somewhere and be something in hockey in Sweden than in Norway.
HF: Tell me a little bit about your three World Junior Championships with Norway.
MH: Well, I had a good World Junior Championship in 2002 and that’s probably one of the reasons I’m right here where I am right now. It’s about trying to be your best at the best time, so I got lucky and got discovered.
HF: How much pride to you take wearing the Team Norway jersey?
MH: I just love playing for Norway. We don’t have a lot of hockey players, so I try to, when I’m home, get involved with the kids and try to get them motivated to be the best and try to get hockey a little bigger in Norway. Beside this, playing for the national team is the funnest game to play.
HF: Tell me a little bit about your junior days in Sweden with Farjestad.
MH: It was a good time for me. I got some ice time and learned a lot and played with some good guys. It was real fun, but they cut down the junior team, so I got into seniors pretty fast and I went from there. Trying to learn to play senior hockey, to go from junior to seniors, is one of the biggest steps in Sweden I think.
HF: How would you say the Swedish first and second divisions compare to the AHL?
MH: Well, it’s a totally different game because here the rink is so small here, you don’t have so much room and you get someone on you right away, it’s a totally different game. Somewhere between the top league and the second league, that’s what I think. Here they work hard, and back in Sweden it’s more play. Here you get no time, there you’ve got a little bit more time. It’s kind of hard to say and hard to compare. I think where you play fits to another guy or fits to a different player from player to player, if you know what I mean.
HF: What was the biggest adjustment you had to make from Sweden to playing in Houston last year?
MH: I think that’s a tough question, because I think that I’ve just played my game since I got here. I don’t know if I can know it myself or if anybody else knows it, I really don’t have a good answer on that.
HF: What were some of the things you thought you improved on last year with Houston?
MH: My awareness and my positioning in the game has got to better, but some days you feel better. I think it’s a little bit different role or situation that I’ve got here than I had in Houston. In Houston I only played five on five and just finished checks and that was basically what I did. This year I’ve got a little bit more offense going on.
HF: Do you feel receiving an expanded role increases your chances of playing for Dallas someday?
MH: Hopefully, that’s my biggest goal, to play for Dallas. They’re a great hockey club and a great organization. That’s what I’m working for and I hope that one day I will get there.
HF: How do you like life in Iowa compared to Texas?
MH: It’s more and more like home, a little colder. I think it’s awesome here, no complaints.
HF: Growing up in Norway, who were some of your heroes?
MH: No one that’s famous here that I can tell you about, but we had some good players on our big team in Norway, and I really didn’t see so much NHL back in Norway because we didn’t have any channels or TV that showed the game. There were a couple guys from the Norwegian team that I looked at.
HF: Players like Tore Vikingstad?
MH: Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.
HF: Espen Knutsen?
MH: Yeah, you know them.
HF: Anders Myrvold?
MH: Yep, I didn’t know you knew them. Those are some players big in Norway.
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