My story begins at age six in Kirtland Hills, Ohio...
Hockey was not natural for me at a young age by any means. It was just something that was fun. My older brother had done it so I enjoyed doing it and I ended up getting a skating coach when I was 9 or 10 years old and she worked with me and a buddy of mine for a long time so it was something that I spent a lot of time at and just enjoyed doing.
When I was 6 we played on a team that was like the Mighty Mites.
I think they call it Atoms in Canada but we played in a local league, like in the Cleveland area, for probably six or seven years.
Then it got to the point where there weren’t that many people still playing and we had to do a lot of travelling.
But we grew up playing around Cleveland all the suburbs and different cities around Cleveland.
The talent in the area was pretty good. We didn’t really know, I guess, the difference to be honest until we started leaving Cleveland. I mean the competition got much better when we went to Michigan and Buffalo and, obviously, into Canada. Those are places that are much bigger hockey hot beds and we enjoyed playing there. Up until then we faced decent competition when I was around 10 or 11 years old. Then we had to start traveling.
|Peter Harrold captained the Boston College hockey team in 2005-06. |
Even though Cleveland didn’t have an NHL club, the NHL is what I still looked up to. I actually collected a lot of hockey cards when I was younger and that kind of got me into following guys in the NHL. I grew up liking the Chicago Blackhawks I think because I really liked their emblem when I was really young. But I grew up liking them and watching them quite a bit and rooting for Jeremy Roenick. My uncle had season tickets to the Buffalo Sabers games so I would actually get to go and watch Sabres games with them, so those were some of my younger memories of watching and following the NHL.
I never really had an encounter with an NHL player at a young age but there were a couple guys that played in Cleveland in Brett Harkins and Brian Holzinger. They were two guys who grew up in Cleveland in the Cleveland area and when they came back to town that was kind of a big deal for us. Brian Holzinger won the Hobey Baker award and he played for a while in the NHL. Brett Harkins too played in the NHL for a little bit.
I also like playing at a lot of other sports. I played baseball, football and I wrestled for a little bit in middle school. I played baseball all the way through high school. I played football in the fall, wrestling in the winter and baseball in the spring but I played hockey while I did all of those. In looking back I had put a lot of effort into hockey that I enjoyed it more and that it just made the most sense to stick with it.
When I was about 14 or 15 I was playing Midget majors. I realized then that I might have a shot at playing in college and that was the goal until I got to college. I was fortunate enough to earn a scholarship and going into Boston College I was just excited to get a free education and play hockey for four more years. Then I got through college and I could tell that I was getting better and I felt that I could play with guys who were making it in the NHL. That kind of gave me more confidence and I said to myself, ‘Well, you know what, maybe I can do this at a higher level.’
Prior to college, the recruiting process started pretty early. They recruit a lot of juniors and even some sophomores now so my junior year was when I was kind of thinking about some of the Boston schools and a couple Ohio schools. I also even looked at a couple of schools out west. But it really came down to Boston College, Boston University and Michigan State, and probably Miami. B.C. ended up having the best blend of hockey and schooling for me. It was the best four years of my life at that point.
I still was thinking pro hockey even though I did not get drafted. I just hadn’t really been on anybody’s radar up until that point. I played in Cleveland and I wasn’t lighting it up or anything at that point. And over probably the last six or seven years there have been a lot more Americans recruited in the top rounds. I wasn’t as good as I should have been to be drafted at that point, and I didn’t really think I was going to be, so that’s just kind of the way it went.
|Peter Harrold decided to sign with the Kings over Boston as a free agent out of college. When he debuted he wore #49. |
My last college game ended up being a loss in the national championship game to Wisconsin. Actually Davis Drewiske was playing on that team, so that hurt a bit, but maybe that following week my family advisor – sort of like an agent – started poking around and Boston and LA were kind of interested. I ended up choosing LA because I thought it was a better fit and I might have a chance to play and grow in that system a little better than in Boston.
We ended up going to training camp and I was really excited to even sign because going into college, looking back on it, I had never really thought that would happen. Then I went into training camp and I got to play in a preseason game and that was pretty awesome. And then I went to Manchester for a bit and I expected to play there that year just because I didn’t think I was good enough to play in the NHL. I ended up doing pretty well in Manchester and then I got called up in November or December and I ended up flying out to San Jose.
It was kind of a tough trip. I had to take three different legs to get there but I finally got in at like 2:30 in the morning without my equipment. I had to practice in someone else’s equipment at pre-game skate and I played the next night. But I mean at that point you’re not really worried about the sleep you’re getting because you’re so excited to play.
So it was the long journey to get there in every possible way but it was a tremendous experience.