Q&A with Derrick Lapoint

By Holly Gunning

In the 2006 NHL Entry draft, the Florida Panthers traded up to the 116th spot to select Derrick Lapoint, a high school defenseman.

Lapoint joined the USHL this season, and was named to the First Team All-USHL team as a rookie.  At 6’3, the good-skating puckmover had 13 goals and 36 assists in 59 games for the Green Bay Gamblers.

The Eau Claire, Wisc. native will attend the University of North Dakota in the fall as a 19-year-old.

Hockey’s Future spoke to Lapoint following the Gamblers’ loss to the Indiana Ice on Saturday, two days before the Gamblers lost their final game in a first-round sweep.

HF: Is the blond hair your playoff theme this year?

DL: Yeah, 12 guys started out with it, I wasn’t actually one of them to begin with.  Our coach came in and said either everyone goes blond or back to their original color.  Majority ruled and here I am with blond hair, which – I wouldn’t really want to do it, but it’s a team thing and I wanted to follow that.

HF: Your season speaks for itself, making First-Team All-USHL, you probably couldn’t have asked for a better season. 
DL: No, not really.  I came into the USHL and had a very successful start and continued to build on it throughout the year.  Coach (Mark) Mazzoleni had a lot of confidence in me and put me in some profound roles right away and I took advantage of it.  Obviously down the playoff stretch here, I’d like to do a little better and hopefully we can turn the ball around, but the regular season was great, fantastic.  Hopefully we can get things done now.

HF: What kind of progress do you feel like you made in your game this year?
DL: I think just stepping in you have to be more physical, and then the whole length of the season you have to be in very good shape.  I was playing against the top lines, so very good in the defensive zone, basic angling, that kind of stuff.  Just kind of tweaking minor things and perfect everything as best I can.

HF: Did you put on any weight this year as you head into college?
DL: I did.  I gained about three pounds during the season.  But I can feel my body maturing and obviously playing a lot definitely helped, but when the summer comes, that’s my main goal and I hope to get to around 195 or 200.  I’m like 186 right now.  I have a chance to do that, it’s just going to be a time-consuming thing.

HF: How many minutes a game have you been playing?
DL: They haven’t really clocked it, but my guess is I probably play over 30.  I play power play, penalty kill, and first line.

HF: You live with a family here?
DL: Yeah, we live with hosting families around the area.  It’s a great experience, I’ve learned a lot from them.  I’m only three hours away from home so my family comes quite a bit.  So it’s not that big of a change. 

HF: Do you know how to do laundry yet?
DL: Yeah, yeah, I came in and did all my laundry all by myself (laughing).  I learned fast.

HF: I heard your coach took a puck in the mouth recently – what happened?

DL: Yeah, I think it was two and half weeks ago.  It was at the end of a game and a puck got cleared and was going towards the bench and we yelled ‘heads up!’ and he looked the other way and turned and got it square in the face.  It wasn’t a very good situation – he lost a few teeth, got a few stitches, but he’s a tough competitor.  He’s always around the rink pushing us, a strong man.  He’ll recover. 

HF: And he stayed in the game.
DL: Yep, he stayed in the game.  He’s very strong.  I was very surprised.  He was writing out plays on the board and bleeding all over, spitting out blood – it was something else (laughing).  He’s a tough guy.

HF: What do you plan to study at North Dakota?
DL: I think I’m going to go into business.  If not that, I’m still thinking about going into elementary ed.  I want to see how far hockey takes me for the first part, but I think next year I’ll have more of an idea what for sure I’m going to do, either business or elementary ed.

HF: Those are two pretty different things.
DL: They are, they are.  But I really like working with kids.  I think that’d be something I’d really enjoy.  But on the other hand, I’d like to be professional and that fits in with being in business.

HF: Do you work at youth hockey camps during the summer?
DL: Yes.  For the last three or four years now, I’ve been working with Twin Cities ‘Top Dog Hockey’ every summer for six or seven weeks.  I stepped in there being just a counselor, now I’m working up to being an instructor and a group leader.  It’s for the most part in central Minnesota and there’s a couple weeks up in northern Minnesota.  There’s week-long camps and some weekend clinics. I’m sure this year I’ll be helping out with North Dakota’s hockey school too. 

HF: Why did you decide on North Dakota?
DL: Looking at the reputation of developing big defensemen is phenomenal. So I was very pleased with that.  I had very good offers from some other schools – being Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Wisconsin kind of came into the picture late and they were kind of questionable on what year I’d come in.  So I didn’t really feel confident with them.  When I took my visits to North Dakota, they were very very nice and I really liked their organization, the way they run things and their coaching staff.  I felt it was a really good fit for me.

HF: Did you get to watch much of them in the tournament?
DL: For the tournament, yes.  In the regular season, we were playing so much that it was hard to watch, but I did get to see the semi-final game. 

HF: Green Bay is so different from Miami – have you ever been to Miami?
DL: I’ve been to Florida once when was very young on a family vacation.  I haven’t been there since.  It is a big change.  [Green Bay] is more of a small town, and back home it’s even smaller, like 60,000.  For me, this is even a bigger city than what I’m used to.  Then Grand Forks is not much bigger.  It’s just something you have to adapt to.  It won’t be too big of a change – I hope not (laughing).

HF: Are you going to Florida prospect camp this year?
DL: Yeah, I was talking with my advisor and he talked to (Director of Player Development) Duane Sutter and they’re seeing if he has a rookie camp or anything like that.  Last year they didn’t think I could go [to the Toronto tournament], but I think I’ll be able to go next year if they do have a rookie camp, pay my own way.

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