What happens on the ice at hockey games is no mystery to die-hard fans, though very few
people know what goes on behind the scenes.
From players’ strict workout regimens to their favorite summer hobbies and activities, little is known about what happens during the AHL off season. Some players like to soak up the sun on a relaxing vacation while some like to spend time with friends and family. Still others like to play tennis and relax by the pool.
Admirals goaltender Mark Dekanich would certainly enjoy all of those, but this summer his focus lies on the 2009-10 season. To that end, he won’t spend this summer at home in North Vancouver. Instead, he will be down in Nashville working out with other Predators players in effort to improve his game and get ready for next season. Dekanich works hard during the off-season but it has been a long and trying road to get to where he is today.
From the moment Dekanich was born, it seemed he was destined to become a hockey player.
“My father played professional hockey when he was younger and my mother was a professional figure skater.” Dekanich said. “I was practically born on the ice.”
Dekanich started playing hockey at the age of 10 when he and some friends put together a summer team. The group did not have a goalie yet so Dekanich volunteered, mostly because he thought the “gear looked cool.”
While in college at Colgate University, Dekanich spent his time saving pucks by day and hitting the books by night. He took his first internship at a financial planning firm in Wellesley, Mass. with one of his teammates but was unsure of his interest in the subject.
“I don’t know if it’s something I would want to go into,” Dekanich said. “Hopefully by the time I’m done playing hockey, I won’t have to work, but we’ll see.”
Attending college outside of Canada sparked an interest for Dekanich in a country that was anything but familiar to him. He decided to take an American history course during the second semester of his freshman year.
“Since I am from Canada, we never really learned American history in school so I started taking classes,” Dekanich said. “… By the time we had to choose our major, I thought, this was something I really enjoyed.”
But despite his interest in American history, Dekanich admits if he hadn’t gotten a shot at professional hockey that he would like to help his dad out with the family business.
So does this hard-working goaltender ever get a break from eating, sleeping and breathing hockey?
Less than a month after the season ended, Dekanich is headed to the Predators training facility in Nashville. While there, he will work with coaching staff to improve his speed and agility and mentally prepare for what could be his biggest season yet.
“I am excited to get the opportunity to possibly be the starting goalie for the Admirals next season,” Dekanich said. “I’ll be working hard [in Nashville] so I can come back stronger and show the team what I can do.”
While Dekanich will be on the ice for most of the summer, he is trying to make room for some fun, relaxing activities as well.
“Obviously I train a lot,” Dekanich said. “I am in the gym several hours per day. But I like to try and play golf as much as I can – though I am not very good, I get by. And I really like to visit with my family and friends since I don’t get to see them a lot during the season. I also want to make it down to Jamaica for vacation this summer.”
With a tiring schedule ahead of him, Dekanich sometimes needs a little extra motivation.
“I spend most of my time doing strength and conditioning exercises as well as plyometrics and riding the bike.” Dekanich said. “I usually just listen to whatever is on in the training room at the time but if I had to choose a favorite artist, I would say T-pain is pretty hot right now.”
He also gets a little superstitious before games and has several pre-game rituals. For starters, on each game day, he eats at the same time, takes a nap at the same time and gets dressed the same way. Additionally, he does the same on-ice warm ups before every game. All of these routines help get him both mentally and physically prepared for each game.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to the age-old principle of only getting out how much you put in. Luckily for Dekanich, he puts in 110 percent every day. All his hard work will hopefully pay off next season as he makes his bid for the starting goalkeeper position in Milwaukee.
“Hopefully, this opportunity will continue to move us [the team] in the right direction,” Dekanich said. “It will be exciting to go into training camp with the opportunity that has been put in front of me. I look forward to it and will be training hard all summer for it.”