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Q & A with Mark Visentin

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE – Goalie Mark Visentin has carved a name for himself in the hockey world since the Coyotes surprised many by selecting him with the 27th overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Visentin, 18, played in 46 games for the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League in 2010-11 and posted a 30-9-2-4 record. He ranked second in the OHL with a 2.52 goals-against average, second in save percentage (.917), and tied for second in shutouts (four). For his efforts, the OHL named Visentin its Goaltender of the Year.

Mark Visentin. Photo by Norm Hall.
With Visentin in net, Niagara, which earned a franchise-record 96 points in 2010-11, reached the third round of the OHL Playoffs before being eliminated by Mississauga.

During the season, Visentin took time to play for Team Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championship. He and his teammates earned the silver medal.

In April, Visentin signed an entry-level contract with the Coyotes.

Recently, Visentin spoke to about his season and his plans for the future.

Q: Would you please comment on what has happened to you since you were drafted by the Coyotes last year?

A: “It’s been quite the whirlwind of things happening to me and my family, but I’ve enjoyed every second of it… You go from the pre-draft, to the Combine, to World Junior goalie camp, to the draft and to the rookie camps and all that other stuff in the summer, and then going through the season. It was a lot of fun...And throughout the year there were a lot of highs and a couple lows, and for the most part it was a good year, and I enjoyed myself a lot and there really isn’t much I regret doing.”

Q: Let’s talk about some of the highs. You were the Goaltender of the Year in the OHL and you made that league’s first team All-Star team. Please reflect on your season with Niagara. Clearly, it was a very good one. What was the key to that?

Mark Visentin. Photo by Getty Images.
A: “I think we set high goals for ourselves at the beginning of the season. I think when teams set high goals it gives you something to work toward. For us, we wanted to win the Memorial Cup. We fell a bit short, losing in the conference finals to Mississauga, but at the same time I think we had a really strong team this year and I think the guys bonded well, and I enjoyed myself a lot on the team. We battled hard; we battled right to the end. I don’t think there were any nights when our team took a night off, which makes me really proud of myself and the team. So, it was a really great year. I played in a couple less games than I did last year, but from my perspective I had a ton of fun and we improved from last year, which is always great, too.”

Q: Do you think the fact that the Coyotes drafted you in the first round boosted your confidence and that that had something to do with how well you played this season?

A: “I think confidence is a thing that just comes with a goaltender. If you don’t have confidence you can’t play the position. Being drafted, it helps, but at the same time, when you’re drafted it’s done and over with… So, from my standpoint, where I was drafted doesn’t mean a lot to me. It did in the past, but I’ve moved on and my work ethic hasn’t changed at all. In fact, it’s only gotten better because I know I need to work that much harder to make it to the next level.”

Q: Please reflect on what happened at the World Junior? You played well during the tournament and became the starting goalie, but you were the losing goalie in the gold-medal game vs. Russia. Please talk about that experience and the impact it had on your season?

Mark Visentin. Photo by Getty Images.
A: “Yeah, it was a heck of an experience. I’d do it again in a heartbeat and I had a ton of fun playing with guys that are a year older than me, guys that are my own age, (and) most of the best players across Canada. It speaks for itself. Up until the last period of the gold-medal game it was great, so many things were going our way. Just living the life of a Team Canada player was a ton of fun and it was an experience that helped me out in a ton of ways. I’d never lost a championship game until then, so it really taught me a big lesson on how to come back from a loss that big. And when I came back to Niagara it was tough readjusting to the OHL ice, but everyone was grateful to have me back. We won our first game back, 6-2 versus Kingston, which was good for myself just to get back into the swing of things, and my coaches and my players did a great job, just welcoming me back and making sure I wasn’t too tired to play and making sure I had the breaks when I needed them.”

Q: Losing the gold-medal game didn’t faze you after you left the arena that day. Correct?

A: “Yeah, I think for some reason people thought that my hockey career was just going to end just because I lost one game, but it’s the total opposite. In life in general, there’s going to be some things that don’t go your way, but how you respond is how strong of a person you are and that’s the way I look at it. It was definitely the biggest game of my life. I lost, we lost, and it was heart-crushing. It was a dream that was crushed. We were that close and it was like a dream that was being ripped right out of your hands. And it was tough, coming back you get reminded about it all the time. It takes a lot of mental toughness to kind of deflect it away. I accept that we lost, and like I said, I’ve moved on. I use it to motivate myself to work harder each and every day, just to hopefully go back next year and take that back from them.”

Q: Discuss your off-season and your future. What are your goals for the 2011-12 season and beyond?

Mark Visentin. Photo by Norm Hall.
A: “There’s really no vacation. Off-season training starts right after the season and it’s right back into the gym… Right now it’s just working out, working hard, just to get stronger in all areas of my body. During the year, especially in the playoffs, you lose time to work out, so you have to gain back the strength you lose. Coming up in the first week of June I have the World Junior goalie camp up in Calgary, and then I’ll see you guys down there in Phoenix at the camp for prospects in the first or second week of July.”

Q: What did you take away from attending Coyotes training camp last September? Did you enjoy being around the veterans?

A: “Yeah. I like to set a lot of goals and my goal was to play in at least one exhibition game. I was sent home the first day of exhibition games. So, from my perspective I came pretty close to achieving that goal. My goal this year is to play in a couple (exhibition games). We’ll see what happens. I know that I have to earn that. At camp you have to outwork everybody there and outcompete, and it’s not an easy job, but it’s one that I’m willing to work as hard as I can to earn, for sure.”
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