Photo credit: Minnesota Hockey Magazine / Carson Mark
Seth Ambroz has been a staple in the Minnesota Golden Gophers' lineup for the past four seasons, and served as an alternate captain this past season. But after 159 games played at the NCAA level, he's ready to move on and face his next challenge.
Ambroz, a fifth-round pick of the Blue Jackets in 2011, turned pro last week after a solid collegiate hockey career, and he's joining a Springfield Falcons team in the hunt for a playoff spot.
"We had a lot of success throughout the four years there. For me, it was a really special thing to be a part of," Ambroz told BlueJackets.com. "Now, it's just time to take the next step forward and move on from there."
Ambroz, a Minnesota native, grew up wanting to play for the Golden Gophers. But his decision to attend Minnesota was much more than just an emotional one. It was also the best route for his development.
"Growing up, I was a big Gophers fan. I think college was the best route for me as far as development -- having a few years to work on my game," Ambroz said. "When it came down to it, it was a great decision for me overall, and I'm glad that I did it."
"Now, I'm just looking forward to what's next."
That next challenge is the professional game -- he's been thrust into the lineup of a Springfield Falcons team that's fighting for its life in the AHL playoff race. Ambroz has plenty of postseason experience, with two Frozen Four appearances to his name, but right now, just getting to the postseason is the challenge. The Falcons have been riddled with injuries, but the additions of Ambroz, first-round pick Sonny Milano and Swedish goalie prospect Joonas Koorpisalo have provided a spark of hope.
Of course, the AHL game is a much different beast than the NCAA game, and Ambroz has already noticed.
"College is more of a run-and-gun type of thing, but when you get to this level, it's a lot more systematic," said Ambroz. "Everyone's so good that you have to play that way to be successful."
Luckily for Ambroz, his skillset is a great fit for the hard-working, physical system that's become an identity for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and by extension, the Falcons.
"My game is getting to the front of the net and having a physical presence on the ice," said the 6-foot-3, 215 pound winger. "I like to throw my body weight around and hopefully score some of those greasy goals around the net, and work hard in the corners."
It's that physical, blue-collar mindset that seemingly fits well with Todd Richards' mantra of Blue Jackets hockey. And while that intensity is Ambroz's calling card on the ice, he's much more laid back away from the rink.
"When I'm not playing hockey, I like to relax," said Ambroz. "I'm big into Netflix, and in the offseason, I like to golf and just hang out with the guys."
Ambroz won't have much time for Netflix today, though -- he's got some work to do. Tonight, on his 22nd birthday, he'll suit up for the Falcons as they battle the Albany Devils, hoping to keep their playoff hopes alive.