By Jason Lockhart
Rhett Rakhshani's hometown of Orange, California is more known for its role in the hit TV show, "The OC" than for breeding hockey players, but that hasn't stopped Rhett from turning a passion into a dream.
Due to his love of surfing, Rhett picked up hockey, not by going to his local rink, but by rollerblading to the countless beaches that line the California shore. It was after those excursions Rhett developed an interest in roller hockey the street kind, playing pick-up until he joined a league. But that wasn't enough. Rhett liked hockey so much that he asked his parents to try another form, and so he did ice. He then signed up for clinics before joining his first organized ice hockey league at the age of six.
Rhett then played hockey for the next ten years in California compiling over 200 points in his last two seasons playing at the Bantam and Midget levels. Rhett was then recruited to play for the United States National Development Team Program (USDP) in 2004 and had a successful two-year run there, putting up 84 points in two seasons. His productivity with the USDP earned him a spot on the United States National Team for the Under-18 World Junior Championship. There he helped lead the US to gold by contributing six points (5-1) in six games. Rhett has since participated in the 2006 US National Junior Evaluation Camp in hopes of joining the National Team for the 2007 World Junior Championship to be held in Sweden.
Though small in stature, 5'10," 170 lbs Rhett has the grit and determination that Ted Nolan and the Islanders organization are looking for in their players. The Islanders scouting staff likes the excitement Rhett brings to the rink with his speed and skill. In addition, his likeable personality off the ice makes him a positive influence in the locker room.
Rhett is currently playing hockey in his first year at the University of Denver and has already made his presence felt He's currently tied for second on the team in scoring and notched the game-winner in overtime against Wisconsin on November 11.
On his Draft Day experience:
"I didn't go to the 2006 NHL Draft; I was back at home watching the first round on TV. Then I went to my aunt's house for her graduation party, so I had all of my family there for the rest of the draft. I got a phone call about being drafted to the Islanders. The whole family was there to celebrate, so that was nice."
On the Islanders Development Camp:
"It was fun. Being on the ice and working out with a bunch of top-notch players was a great experience. We also got to hang out a lot away from the rink. Just being around guys like that is always fun regardless of what you're doing."
On what he would like to improve:
"I'm trying to get bigger overall, which is going to come with time and working hard. I'm working on my skating as well. I don't think Im bad at skating, but it's something I still want to get better at. I'm working on the mental game as well."
On going the college hockey route:
"It's great hockey. I have more time to develop, and I get to go to school at the same time. It's the whole package."
On playing for the US National Development Team:
"It was an amazing experience. The staff pushes you so hard every day. You can't help but further yourself as a player and as a person. The practices are top notch, the season is awesome, the weight training is great, but the best thing about it is representing your country at international tournaments. Also, playing a college schedule in your under-18 year is so much fun."
On his Denver hockey experience:
"It has been an amazing experience so far. I've been here for about five weeks and it's just flown by. All the older guys have taken us freshmen under their wing. The first regular season game was a blast. We played at Miami of Ohio and it was a packed house with the great college fans. Unfortunately, we lost but it was still an awesome experience. It is different than playing on the national team. Off the ice, the coaches give you more responsibility, and treat you as men. So you have to make sure you are disciplined and have good time management. On the ice, there's a lot of leadership involved because everyone isn't the same age. The older guys will always step up and keep you accountable if you aren't doing things right."
On balancing hockey and academics:
"It's definitely been an adjustment. College is a lot harder and more time consuming than high school. On top of that, you have your full hockey schedule, which a lot of the time includes traveling for three days over the weekend. After all that, there are social activities. I've learned quickly to take care of the important things first before I go have fun."
On playing against fellow Islanders draft pick Kyle Okposo (on Minnesota):
"No doubt it will be a big game. But yeah, knowing Kyle and some other really good buddies, I'm sure it will be an intense game. Bragging rights are always nice to have with your good friends."
The Rakhshani File
Favorite superpower: Flying
Green Day or Eminem? Green Day
Favorite non-North American city: Helsinki, Finland
Jet skiing or Snowmobiling? Jet skiing
Alternate profession: Business
Family Guy or Simpsons? Simpsons
Favorite Former Islander: Bryan Trottier
Batman or Superman? Superman
What actor would play you in a movie? Brad Pitt
Ashlee or Jessica Simpson? Jessica
Favorite sport other than hockey: Surfing
Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Do you like "The OC?" Never watched it.
Your favorite class you're taking? My freshman seminar writing class
What do you like best about DU? The campus and the friendly people
Favorite NHL team growing up: Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Favorite NHL player growing up: Mario Lemieux
Favorite food: Mexican
Favorite movie: Pirates of the Caribbean
Favorite TV show: Prison Break
Your brand of skates: Mission
Your stick brand: Mission
Favorite color: Green
What two people would you like to have dinner with? Abe Lincoln and Michael Jordan
What event in history would you like to have been a part of? The signing of the Declaration of Independence
Position: Right Wing
Born: March 6, 1988 -- Orange, CA
Weight: 170 lbs.
Drafted by the Islanders in the fourth round (100th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft
|SEASON ||CLUB ||LEAGUE ||GP ||G ||A ||PTS ||PIM |
|2004-05 ||U.S. Nat'l U-17 ||USDP ||63 ||19 ||24 ||43 ||- |
|2005-06 ||U.S. Nat'l U-18 ||USDP ||50 ||18 ||23 ||41 ||59 |
|2006 ||Team USA ||WJC18 ||6 ||5 ||1 ||6 ||4 |