Q&A with Andy Chiodo

By Ailyn Diaz

Sebastien Caron was in net, but the fans of Wachovia Center cried out his name in a mesmerizing chant: “Chiodo!”

During the third game of the AHL Eastern Division Semifinals against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Coach Michel Therrien opted for Caron instead of 20-year-old prospect Andy Chiodo who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the seventh round of the 2003 NHL Draft. Although Caron, claimed two losses and “played well” for the win, according to Therrien, “you could see that early in the game he was kind of nervous.”

Andy Chiodo is not impatient to get the start. He knows that he can do the job in an upcoming playoff game. Central Scouting described him as “a very good skater with excellent athletic ability and quickness (who) effectively controls rebounds with his blocker and stick…reads the play and sees the puck very well in heavy traffic…plays an effective butterfly style (and) plays well in pressure situations.”

He relies on these situations to show his spirit and Therrien will be counting on him to bring energy to the team during the playoffs. With so much competition between the likes of Caron, J-S Aubin and Marc-Andre Fleury, Chiodo learned to value friendship on the ice at an early age. He received his first lessons on “friendly competition” from Colorado Avalanche prospect, Peter Budaj who he used to play with on St. Michael’s of the OHL.

After the playoff game, Chiodo taught two eager kids playing in the corridor of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins locker room the same. He took his goaltender stick and blocked a quick shot. “Keep on playing!” he told them as he turned around and gave Hockey’s Future an exclusive interview.

HF: You played with Peter Budaj who is now with the Hershey Bears. How was it playing with him?
AC: It was good. We had a good relationship. We played real hard together. We’ve known each other for two years and we had a friendly competition.

HF: How about against him?
AC: It was weird to play against a good buddy of yours. You kind of know a lot about each other and you both kind of want to win the game and it was a good battle both times. It was really fun. Just another game.

HF: What do you think is your forte as a goaltender?
AC: I think mental toughness and character. Systems on the ice and being really quick. But if I have to go with one thing that is going to take me real far it’s going to be my focus and mental strength.

HF: What do you do to maintain that focus?
AC: Just stay sharp every day. You bring focus on the rink every single practice. Realize that is sometimes a 24 hour a day sometimes job. You always have to be in the right frame of mind and when you get on that ice you bear down and really focus.

HF: You were a pick for the New York Islanders prior to the re-entering the draft in 2003 with the Penguins, how does it feel watching their affiliate team (Bridgeport Sound Tigers) here in the playoffs?
AC: I actually got to play my first NHL games against them. I got to play three games against the Islanders and that’s pretty cool. I mean…everyone has different stories, different teams draft them, different teams sign them. I have just gotten lucky. I mean I’ve been part of two great organizations already.

HF: Do you think your going to start anytime soon during these playoffs?
AC: I really don’t know what is going on right now. We play Tuesday or Thursday. Whenever we get to play next to get right in there and help the team win.

HF: Which goaltender do you emulate your style?
AC: I like Eddie Belfour a lot. He has a passion for the game and how much control he has on the ice. I love the way he plays and there are so many goaltenders in the league but if I had to pick one I would just say Eddie Belfour today.

HF: Are you rooting for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL playoffs?
AC: Yeah, I’m a Toronto native as well. I hope they win. I have some good buddies in Ottawa but I just hope Toronto beats them still.