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Q and A with Scott Mayfield

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
Islanders prospect Scott Mayfield pulled the orange and blue sweater over his head for the first time at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft when the team selected him with the 34th overall pick. The St. Louis native has taken his game to University of Denver, where the Pioneers rookie d-man is making quite an impression.

DU is 8-1-0 when Mayfield records a point, 3-0-0 when he scores a goal and last weekend, he scored the game-winner in a 5-3 victory over the University of North Dakota. The Pioneers are a formidable 11-4-1 since the Christmas break.

Scott Mayfield is having a notable rookie season for the Denver University Pioneers.
During Denver’s second-half surge, Mayfield put together a four-game point streak (1g/3a) in January and scored two points in two games against nationally ranked Minnesota (no. 4 at the time) in February. Assisting on the game-winning and game-tying goals against the Golden Gophers caught the eye of the WCHA brass and they named him Rookie of the Week on Feb. 14.

Check out this Q and A with @scottmayfield2:

How are things going in Denver?
I think we’ve been playing better as a team. We struggled in the first half, but came back after Christmas and knew we had to turn it on to make the tournament. I think the whole team has turned it on. We’ve only had four losses since Christmastime.
Personally, I think the game is slowing down for me. It took me a while to get used to the college level and everything. I think all that’s slowing down now and I’m playing better than I was at the start of the year, too.”

Was it a case of the guys just needed a couple of months to come together?
“Definitely. And realizing that we had to start winning almost every weekend. We knew Minnesota was a huge weekend and we came out and swept them. Just the way the whole team has been playing, they’ve really stepped up.”

Everyone says at every level the game gets faster, but what other changes are there at the college level compared to junior?
“The speed is definitely the number one thing, but it's playing against older guys, too. We’re playing against some kids who are 24, 25. So, it’s a step up with the older guys. The size and the physical play is definitely ramped up and the skill is even better. It’s an all-around game. The speed is definitely the number one thing that it takes younger guys to get used to. It took me quite a few games to get used to.”

How did you make the game slow down? What does it take to get adjusted to it?
“Experience, getting your chances in the games and working hard in practice. You’re practicing against guys that are skilled too, especially at bigger schools. Day in and day out you are getting used to it and then in-game situations are the biggest thing that helps.”

You played against North Dakota and Brock Nelson. Have you been keeping tabs on the other Islanders prospects? Do you guys ever talk to each other when you play each other?
“Me and Brock roomed together at camp this summer, so that definitely brought us a little bit closer. You realize when you are playing against other prospects, even other teams’ prospects.
The hockey community is so small that everyone kind of knows everyone. I have friends from St. Louis on this team, I have friends I played with in overseas tournaments and everything.”

Who has been an influence on you in Denver?
“Our coaching staff has been huge. I owe all the credit for the game slowing down and getting better to them. That’s who’s giving me all the tips every day. I think the coaching staff has done a great job with all the freshmen this year.”

Is there a specific player, too? Maybe a new d-partner?
“I’ve been playing with Paul Phillips. He’s a junior and that’s helped me out a ton. He’s a Chicago prospect. Coming in, he kind of took me under his wing and I feel like that’s helped a lot. The older guys, the influence that they have can be huge and I think all of them have done a great job. Our captains have been great. It’s a whole team effort.”

What has it been like having to balance school and hockey?
“School’s definitely still there. I came straight in as a true freshman, so I never got the year off or anything. I’ve always had quite a bit of schoolwork with hockey. It’s a little more of a grind at the college level because the classes are a little bit harder. School's always been pretty important in my family, so it’s nothing new to me. I take the grades pretty serious, but it’s definitely a grind when you have a hard weekend and lots of practice, but you have to stay on top of the classes, too.”

You were named the WCHA Rookie of the Week on Feb. 14. What was your reaction to that honor?
“The personal success is great. I think after that Minnesota weekend, (Feb. 10-11) our power play was good that weekend. We scored. The second game we scored with about a minute and a half left to tie and later won it overtime. Like I said, the personal success is great, but I owe it all to the team. Without the team, none of that would have happened. It was just a team effort that weekend, we knew we needed all four of those points against the fourth-ranked team in the country at that time. We really came out and played together and that’s what we need to do every weekend.”
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