Travis Morin led Minnesota State – Mankato in points as a senior this season with 39 in 38 games. He played in all situations and was among the team leaders in ice time. The 6’2 195-pound co-captain was also known for winning draws and blocking shots.
The Washington Capitals selected Morin in the ninth round, 263rd overall, in the 2004 Entry Draft. When his season ended in Mankato this year, Washington signed the 23-year-old to a two-year contract which will begin next fall, and also had him sign a contract with ECHL affiliate South Carolina Stingrays for the remainder of this season. In five games with the Stingrays, who are fighting for a playoff spot, Morin has two goals and one assist in five games. He’s centering a line of two former college players in Josh Anderson (St. Lawrence) and Brendan Bernakevitch (Harvard). Finding chemistry quickly is important for someone who plays a game based on vision and a light touch as Morin does.
Morin will graduate from Mankato in May with a degree in management. For now Brooklyn Park, MN native is enjoying the warm temperatures of Charleston, South Carolina and getting some experience under his belt.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Morin following the Stingrays’ 4-2 loss to the Gwinnett Gladiators on Thursday, in which he had a well-earned assist.
HF: How is the transition to pro going for you?
TM: I think it’s going pretty well. The first game I was just getting used to the speed and stuff, and now that I’ve gotten into it, and starting to feel comfortable, I’m trying to play my game the way I can.
HF: You had success right away (scoring in first game), was that just luck or what?
TM: (Laughing) I’d like to think it wasn’t luck, but I got a couple of bounces and that’s hockey, you’ve got to take the bounces when you get them. Even when I haven’t scored the last few games here, I’ve had chances and opportunities to score. That’s all I can look for.
HF: Were you pretty confident coming off a good season?
TM: Yeah, that helps. After my season at Mankato, coming down here, I’d had a good season. It’s nice to start playing professional hockey right after you’ve played a season instead of jumping in brand new at the beginning of the season. You’ve got your legs, and you’re comfortable playing. It’s just getting used to new guys.
HF: What’s been the biggest transition?
TM: Where I came from, we had Olympic ice and there’s a lot more room. Now there’s not a whole lot of time to make plays. Getting used to new linemates is also a little bit of a challenge. You don’t know exactly where they’re going to be, you’re not used to playing with them. So it’s hard to find those passes quickly.
HF: Is the size and strength of the players much different?
TM: They’re bigger and stronger and they probably move a little bit better than some of the guys we played against in college, but it’s not that big of a jump I don’t think. I mean, it’s something you can deal with and keep playing.
HF: How about the weather, is it warm enough for you?
TM: (laughing) Yeah, I couldn’t wear shorts up in Minnesota. When I got down here I haven’t put a pair of pants on – it’s shorts every day. All the snow is melting up there, and now I can go to the beach and golf. It’s great.
HF: Did you bring the right wardrobe down?
TM: Yeah, I came prepared. I only brought a couple pairs of pants and haven’t worn them except for off the plane. I’ve got a few pairs of shorts and some t-shirts.
HF: Why did you not turn pro last year and go back for your senior year?
TM: Actually Washington thought it would be better for me to go back and spend another year in Mankato. That’s what they wanted and I was all for it. Looking back on it I’m happy I did go back, finish my senior year there with my classmates. We had a pretty good season up there and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.
HF: Did Washington send you here instead of (AHL) Hershey for more ice time?
TM: Yeah, they said I’d get a chance down here, play on the power play, the penalty kill. I’d get a chance to play a lot like I was used to. They said they sent a few guys up there last year who didn’t see much ice time. That’s what I wanted, I’d rather go somewhere that I can play and get acclimated to everything. That’s what they gave me and I love it.
HF: Do you think the ice time you’re getting here is about the same as at Mankato then?
TM: Yeah, it’s close probably. I was getting a lot of ice time, averaging I think like 28 minutes a game, which is a lot for a forward. It’s different down here because we only have three lines and I’m still playing on the power play and penalty kill. I’d say it’s probably close, but not quite as much.
HF: So are you tired? You’ve been playing a ton.
TM: No (laughing), I’m not tired. I’ve found that now with no school to worry about, I have plenty of time to rest during the day. You just get ready for practice and you have a lot of time off. You can do with it what you want and you just rest, have a good time with some guys and it’s not too tiring.
HF: About your schoolwork, are you going to graduate on time and what are you doing with your classes?
TM: Well I only had three classes left this semester. Two of them I’m going to be able to finish for sure and the other I’m still trying to work with the teacher on.
HF: You don’t have any schoolwork to do right now?
TM: There’s just little assignments that I can do over email. Nothing major. One class is an online class already so I can do everything there. The other class, the teacher told me that if I know I’m not going to be back for any of the rest of school, she’s going to help me out. So right now I’m just waiting to see what happens.
HF: After the season wraps up with South Carolina, do you think they’ll send you to Hershey?
TM: I don’t know. They said they might. I’m not sure what they’ll want me to do. I’ll go wherever they want me. Keep playing as long as I can and get ready for the summer.
HF: Who are you rooting for in the Frozen Four?
TM: Oh, I’d like to see North Dakota win it just because that’s our league and over the last five, six years our league won the championship, so it would be nice to see them plus they knocked us out. I think they have a good chance, they’re a really good team right now. I won’t really be rooting for anybody, but it would be nice to see out league come out with it again.
HF: It seemed like you got knocked down a bit tonight and you’re kind of a thin guy. Do you think that’s what you need to work on for next year?
TM: Yeah, I’ve been told coming out of high school that I’d have to get bigger. In college I probably gained 20 lbs during my four years there. I can hopefully gain five or 10 lbs this summer and still have my skills and work on those. But yeah, if you’re going to move up, it’s hard to play when you’re skinny, if you want to say. I’m definitely looking to put on some weight. I’m going to talk to [Washington’s] guy when the seasons are over because he works out of Blaine, right by my house so I’ll probaby be working with him all summer. I’m sure they’ll have something set up for me.
HF: What’s your goal for next year?
TM: I’d love to gain some weight over the summer, get stronger, and then go to camp and see what happens. You never know. There’s guys who came out of our league and weren’t expected to do much in their camps and now they’re playing in the NHL. So it’s not out of reach, but I really just want to find a spot to play and get comfortable with playing professionally.
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