Q&A with Mark Santorelli

By Holly Gunning

Reigning WHL scoring champion Mark Santorelli is turning pro this season with the Nashville Predators organization.

The right winger played one regular season and two playoff games for the Milwaukee Admirals last year, and is slated to play for them full time this year.  He’ll hope that his 101 points in 72 games in junior for the Chilliwack Bruins carries over somewhat to the pro game.  His best asset is his vision, but with a 6’1, 191-pound build, he can do more than score.  Adjusting to the much faster AHL will be the challenge for Santorelli, who doesn’t possess the speed of some other elite scorers. 

And he’ll probably have a friendly face alongside him, in the form of brother Mike, a draft pick of the Predators in 2004.  Mark was Nashville’s 119th overall choice in the 2007 draft.

Hockey’s Future spoke to the 20-year-old in Nashville after the second of two prospects games against the Atlanta Thrashers this week.

HF: How is Predators camp going for you so far?
MS: I think it’s going pretty good.  It’s my first year kind of staying here, signed to a contract, so it’s a different experience than last year.  I obviously expect more of myself and try to learn as much as I can.

HF: Has a coach told you anything that was particularly helpful?

MS: No, nothing in particular, just go out there and work as hard as you can.  That’s the biggest thing.

HF: How did you do on the fitness tests when you came into camp?

MS: I think I did good.  I trained really hard this summer, I think all my scores were pretty good.  I think at the end of camp they let us know how we did in our meetings. 

HF: These two prospect games against the Thrashers, what level would you compare them to — were they a lot tougher than the WHL?

MS: Oh yeah, it was a lot tougher.  It was a really good game, a big difference between that and the WHL.   It’s a lot faster, guys are a lot stronger.

HF: It got a little chippy today, huh?
MS: Yeah, there was almost a couple fights — so yeah, it was fun.

HF: Did you think one was going to break out?
MS: Um, no, because they told us beforehand that we weren’t allowed to fight.  But obviously when you’re playing hockey, guys’ emotions get the best of them.

HF: You got to play against Myles Stoesz, a former teammate, today.  How’d that go?
MS: It was good, he’s a tough player, he’s tough to play against.  He’s obviously a hard hitter, so it was fun to play against him.  We played a year together in Chilliwack.  It was fun to see him out there.

HF: Did you notice how much his skating has improved?

MS: Oh yeah, he looks like he’s improved a lot all around.  Since I’ve seen him it’s a big difference.  It doesn’t look like him out there, he looks good. 

HF: You’re going to be a rookie against this year after being a big dog in the WHL, how do you feel about that?
MS: (laughs) I guess you always have to be a rookie any time you go up a level.  I think it’ll be good, I think it’ll be a big learning experience and I’m going to try to learn as much as I can.  Everyone has to go through it.