Only 20 years old (he’ll turn 21 later this month), Ray Macias has already completed four seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Kamloops Blazers. Last season, he led all WHL defensemen in scoring with 70 points (30g/40a) in 70 games. Presently, he’s turned his attention to improving his skills at Colorado’s Rookie Camp.
Macias sat down with www.coloradoavalanche.com following Saturday’s scrimmage to talk about his improved confidence level, some big names that have helped him to improve his game, and his foray into speed skating.
Q: This isn’t your first camp with the Avalanche. Do you feel more confident coming into Rookie Camp this year than in the past?
A: Definitely. It gave me a big confident boost, especially after coming in the last two years and knowing what to expect.
Q: You’ve played both defense and forward in the past and have had success at both. Do you feel more comfortable sticking to defense?
A: I feel a lot more comfortable as a defenseman because it allows me to see the ice better. When I played forward, it was a little tough because I had to adjust to my team’s system. I definitely prefer playing defense.
Q: Is it nice coming into a situation like this Rookie Camp and knowing that you can concentrate on defense?
A: It makes it that much easier to just focus on that part of your game and not having to worry about jumping back and forth.
Q: You gained some great experience playing for the Los Angeles Midget AAA Kings. What did you learn while playing for them?
A: I learned a lot and that’s what really made it possible for me to go to Kamloops. My coach with the Kings taught me so much and really allowed me to develop, which helped me get to Kamloops at the age of 17.
Q: How much of an adjustment was it, jumping from Midget hockey to Major Junior?Q: Many California kids begin by playing inline hockey before moving to ice hockey. Was this the case with you?
A: It was a pretty big adjustment. I went there when I was 16, but I knew I needed one more year to develop. It worked out for the best, but it was a big jump and the game was a lot faster when I got to the WHL.
A: Actually, I speed skated before I started playing ice hockey, and then began playing roller hockey after that. It all kind of came together at the same time. I started speed skating when I was three and began playing ice hockey at age 5.Q: How did you get into speed skating?
A: I don’t really know. My mom put me on speed skates and away I went.
Q: You skate with some pretty big-name players in the offseason, don’t you?
A: I actually work out with Rob Blake and have skated with Glen Murray. Brendan Shanahan has been there too. A lot of those guys have houses in California, so when they come down, they skate and work out at the same gym that I do. When I see those guys I ask a lot of questions and try to get everything out of them that I can.
Q: You obviously have many strengths to your game, including your offensive talent and ability to quarterback a power play. What do you feel you still need to work on in order to be successful at a higher level?
A: I need to work on my corner work in the defensive zone and also get stronger. Everything else is coming along. I can skate and move the puck up the ice. Basically, the biggest thing is improving my strength.