DRAFT DOGS | Lead Up to the NHL Draft with Mark Visentin
The 2018 NHL Draft is upcoming on June 22nd. Each week, to get insights into their draft experiences, we will be catching up with players who have been drafted while playing for the IceDogs.
This week, we caught up with former IceDogs goaltender, Mark Visentin.
The Waterdown, ON native, spent his minor midget season with the Halton Hurricanes. Mark took the reins of starting goaltender in his second season with the team. He’d go on to win OHL Goaltender of the Year in 2010-2011, represent Canada twice in the World Junior Championship, and become just the fourth goaltender in OHL history to score a goal.
He spent 4 seasons with the IceDogs, amassing franchise records, for goaltenders, in games played (166), Wins (89), and Shutouts (14). Mark was drafted 27th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes.
Q: What was like it like going into your Draft year, and all the excitement that goes along with it? Did it feel any different from previous seasons?
A: The feeling going into my draft year was definitely different compared to past seasons. I not only wanted to be drafted as high as possible, but I wanted to establish myself as a prominent starting goaltender while contributing to my team’s success. There was definitely added adrenaline while performing well and working my way up the draft rankings.
Q: In the lead-up to the Draft, there’s talk about who’s ranked where, and who’s going to be picked in what position. What was that like for you?
A: Throughout the season there were a couple of ranking announcements. I set high goals for myself at the beginning of the season and wanted to be first on the list for North American goalies. I was ranked 8th in the midterm rankings which lit a fire in me to do everything I could to climb the list. I worked as hard as I could and increased my ranking to 4th by the end of the season.
Q: Take us through Draft day, what was that experience like for you?
A: My draft day was an overall amazing experience. Los Angeles did a great job of hosting the draft and accommodating the players and families. I showed up to watch the first round assuming that I was going to be picked the next day in the second round. Phoenix ended up trading down and picked me with the 27th overall pick. To this day, it is still one of the best days of my life – my heart was pounding as I walked onto the stage! My entire draft day experience made me realize that I could achieve anything I wanted to as long as I was willing to put in the work and remain optimistic.
Q: Talk about that moment, when you hear what team it is, and being able to share that with your family when the news comes out.
A: Luckily, I had close to my entire family there to enjoy my draft moment. It was extremely special because they were the ones who witnessed all of the hard work and sacrifices that I put in for years in order to be picked by an NHL team. We were all ecstatic and excited for me to join the Coyotes organization.
Q: How did you approach the season after being drafted, now that you’re part of an organization and the pressure of your draft year is over.
A: After being drafted, my goals became even higher as did my expectations. Instead of setting goals to be drafted, I set goals to win a gold medal with Team Canada, win an OHL championship, and win the Goaltender of the Year award. I really enjoyed setting high goals and going above and beyond to achieve them. I reached out to every resource I could possibly find to improve myself as a player and a person.
Q: During your time with the IceDogs you represented Canada at the World Juniors twice. How did it feel to put on that jersey and medal in both tournaments?
A: Representing Team Canada on two different occasions was a privilege and an amazing experience. Different dynamics for each tournament allowed for unique challenges each year which helped me learn and improve my skills. I learned how hard it can be to compete against the best players from around the world and how much fun it can be to play in such high stake games!
Q: Last year, you were voted Best Goaltender in IceDogs history. How did it feel to receive that accolade and what do you miss most about your time with the IceDogs?
A: It was an honour to receive the Best Goaltender in IceDogs history award. I had four tremendous years in Niagara and was a part of turning a good team into a great team. Along the way, I made amazing friendships with teammates, office staff, and fans which I will never forget. Since I was in Niagara for all four of my seasons, it felt like I was part of a big family which I miss. I also miss competing against other teams and hanging out with my best friends on the team from that time. Also, being around people who helped contribute to all of our accomplishments made for some very special connections. I forever appreciate what others did for me and I miss being around that positive and encouraging atmosphere. Lastly, it was amazing playing in front of a sold-out crowd at the Jack every night. The atmosphere in our arena was always electric which made it a ton of fun to play in.
Q: What advice would you give to the IceDogs eligible for this year’s draft. (Akil Thomas, Justin MacPherson, Andrew Bruder, etc.)
A: My advice for players eligible for this year’s draft is to not worry about draft rankings or scouts in the building. Instead, work hard to constantly improve your strengths/weaknesses and enjoy every second you can with your teammates – the rest will take care of itself.
So there you have it, another behind-the-scenes look at the NHL Draft experience with the best goaltender in IceDogs history, Mark Visentin! Stay tuned for more draft profiles leading up the NHL Draft on June 22nd.