Q&A: Michigan Goalie Zach Nagelvoort Reflects On Career As Postseason Nears

Q&A: Michigan Goalie Zach Nagelvoort Reflects On Career As Postseason Nears
Photo: Michigan Athletics
The Michigan Wolverines entered this season as the defending Big Ten champions, but their 2016-17 campaign has been often marked with more signs of transition than title contention.

With two regular-season games remaining, the Wolverines hold an 11-18-3 record and sit in fifth place in the Big Ten Conference.

Following the 2015-16 season, Michigan was challenged by the unenviable task of replacing its four leading scorers in Kyle Connor, J.T. Compher, Tyler Motte, and Zach Werenski.

The Wolverines also saw an additional face emerge in the crease after UM coach Red Berenson opted to split starting time between freshman goalie Hayden Lavigne and senior Zach Nagelvoort, a 2014 fourth-round NHL draftee by the Edmonton Oilers. 

Nagelvoort, 23, was recently named Big Ten First Star of the Week after posting a 42-save shutout over nationally ranked division rival Ohio State in a rare road win for the Wolverines on Feb. 25.

It was Nagelvoort's seventh time earning star of the week honors during his four years at Michigan.

We caught up with him recently to review his college career. 

FloHockey: What is your biggest takeaway during your four years under legendary coach Red Berenson?
Nagelvoort:
I would say that playing for Red Berenson has been an honor that I looked forward to and had hoped to have the opportunity to do my entire life. Playing for Coach Berenson is not an easy thing to do, and I say this in a positive way.

Coach Berenson only brings in players who he believes have the ability to become great hockey players, who not only have an impact at Michigan but have the potential to play for a long time after college.

Because of this belief in each player that he brings, he is never going to accept anything short of your absolute best performance or effort. Once Coach Berenson has seen that you can play or seen that you have it in you to be an impact player, anything that you put forward that is any less than that will be seen as unacceptable.

That is one of the reasons that I feel honored to have played for that man. He pushed me to become the best I was physically and mentally able to become in the net as well as away from the rink. 

Can you describe your emotions when you see Michigan teammates including Dylan Larkin, Zach Werenski, and Zach Hyman take the next step in their careers and enter the NHL?
It's exciting to see teammates move on to the professional level. Making that jump is a goal of mine after my senior season, and to have teammates and friends going through that experience before me is a blessing, as I have an inside look into what the future might hold for me. 

Over the past few seasons, the state of Michigan has seen numerous high-end players drafted by NHL teams. As a Holland, MI, native, how does it feel to be included alongside those names?
It's a great feeling to be included with some of the great players who have come through the state of Michigan. I am proud to have lived in Michigan most of my life, and I feel that the hockey environment here is second to none in providing opportunities for young players to grow their game. 

Can you describe the feeling you had when you were recently named Big Ten First Star of the Week after shutting out Ohio State?
Beating Ohio State was a great feeling. Our team has had a bit of a slow year in terms of getting road wins, so anytime that we can take three points from a team in their home arena, it's a great feeling. 

When you were drafted in 2013, what was the strongest part of your game? 
I would say that my puck playing and my ability to track the play, anticipate where the puck is going was my biggest strength. 

After four years of college hockey it must feel like a lifetime ago that you were drafted by Edmonton; in those four years, what aspect of your game has grown the most?
The biggest area of growth I have had without a shadow of a doubt is my mental game, mental strength.

The ability to withstand the ups and downs of a season and keep yourself mentally consistent and constantly focused on each day ahead of you instead of getting too caught up in what the future might hold is essential to the sport of hockey and even more specifically to the position of goaltender. 

What is your plan for the next step in your career?
My plan is to focus on finishing up my hockey career at the University of Michigan, and whenever our season is done this year, hopefully after the national tournament, I will look at what is next for me. 

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @JMessing23.
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