Fasching brings power game to Minnesota lineup

By DJ Powers

Hudson Fasching - University of Minnesota

Photo: University of Minnesota forward and Buffalo Sabres prospect Hudson Fasching was named the Golden Gophers’ Rookie of the Year after a strong freshman season (courtesy of Brad Rempel/Icon SMI)

Freshman Hudson Fasching had had quite the season so far with the University of Minnesota. The Burnsville, MN native currently leads the Golden Gophers in frosh scoring with 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 36 games. Fasching was earlier named to the Big Ten All-Rookie Team.

More recently, he was named the recipient of Minnesota’s Frank Pond Award as the team’s Rookie of the Year. On March 5th, Fasching had his NHL rights traded to the Buffalo Sabres from the Los Angeles Kings.

Hockey’s Future caught up with Fasching after practice on Friday at the NCAA Tournament West Regional at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN.

Q: The Golden Gophers are here in the NCAA Tournament and playing in their backyard. As a freshman, describe what it’s like to be in this situation for the first time.

Hudson Fasching: Growing up I went to Wild games and my uncle works for the Xcel, so I’ve been around here a quite a bit, and to be able to play here is awesome, especially in the NCAA Tournament. For me, it’s something new and extremely exciting to be able to play in it. As a team, we’re obviously trying to be better (in the NCAA Tournament) than we were last year and that’s our goal starting tomorrow night.

Q: With their experience of having played in the NCAA Tournament already, how have the leaders on this team like Nate (Condon) and Kyle (Rau) been able to help the younger guys like you prepare to play on such a big stage like this?

HF: We have such great leaders on this team and I think the one thing that they’ve taught us younger guys is to just keep calm in big game situations like this. We younger guys tend to get a little riled up and excited to just get out there and I think those guys do a great job of getting everyone to calm down and keep everything in check. I think that’s going to be huge for us once we start playing the games.

Q: You had a great stint in the World Junior Championship earlier in the year. What were some of the things that you learned from that experience that has made you a better player, and that you were able to bring back to Minnesota with you?

HF: When you’re going up against guys from places like Russia, Finland and Sweden, you get to see the different styles of play and styles that you don’t see or aren’t used to seeing in college hockey. So being able to see that and learn from it was one of the things that I was able to bring back with me.

I also picked up a lot of things with the guys that I was playing with and the type of role that I was being put into. We had a lot of great guys on our team, so I was able to learn a lot from many of them.

Q: What was perhaps the one thing that you brought back from the World Junior Championship that has not only allowed you to elevate your game, but has allowed you to take the next step in your development?

HF: I just think playing with Andrew Copp (WPG) and Stefan Matteau (NJD) really helped me. We were sort of the checking line and I was able to understand how to go in there and really forecheck. That’s been one of the things that our team (Minnesota) has been working on. We want to just be strong forechecking on pucks, get pucks back once we dump it in, and just kind of establishing an offense in general. So that’s been huge for me there.

Q: You and Brady (Skjei) were both there and of course are both teammates with Minnesota. Was the experiencing of playing in the World Juniors a little easier for the two of you, knowing how each other plays and just being Gophers teammates?

HF: I think so. We were also both fortunate enough to be able to play in Ann Arbor with the U.S. NTDP for a couple of years so we were friends with the guys that we played with in the U.S. NTDP, as well. I think it made transitioning to playing in the World Junior Championship a lot easier. And obviously having Coach (Don) Lucia there made the transition that much more easier.

Q: Can you describe what it felt like when the Los Angeles Kings drafted you?

HF: It was really cool and they’re obviously such a highly touted team. I was there and then all of a sudden I was traded. So it was a weird situation in the beginning.

Q: Did you attend the Kings prospects camp this past summer?

HF: No because I had summer school and had to focus on that. I had planned to attend this year, but I guess I’ll be attending Buffalo’s camp instead. (Laughs)

Q: When you found out that your NHL rights had been traded to the Buffalo Sabres what was your first reaction?

HF: I was just kind of blown away a little bit. I had just gotten out of class and was sitting at the bus stop. We have a team group texting thing, so I looked down at my phone and noticed that one of the guys posted in there “hey, there’s rumors of Fasching being traded”. I look at it and said “What?!” I did a double take and then a little later my advisor had contacted me and the whole process had just kind of gotten started. So, I’m very excited about being a part of the Buffalo Sabres organization.

Q: When the Sabres traded for you, there were other great players, pro or otherwise, that were involved in that deal as well. But the Sabres obviously thought highly enough about you to get you as a part of that trade. How does that make you feel knowing that?

HF: It makes me feel great, especially with the idea that I was worth something to them (Buffalo) and they were willing to make that trade with me being a part of it. It was definitely a compliment in that aspect. I’m just really excited about it.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?

HF: I’d describe myself as a power forward that goes and gets pucks. I try to make plays off the rush if I can, but mostly bring pucks to the net hard. I play in front of the net on the power play and try to block shots in the defensive zone. I try to play both ways. When I was growing up, I was more of a skill player, but I think I’ve gone through a bit of a role reversal in that area, as I’ve grown older.

Q: Would you say that it’s been a good thing that you did develop into a different type of player?

HF: Yeah. I take pride in the fact that I was able to change my game like that and mold myself into more of a practical player in today’s hockey.

Follow DJ Powers on Twitter via @DJPowersHF