This past week, Ryan Yessie had the opportunity to sit down with Sarnia Sting defenseman Nathan Chiarlitti. Here is the transcript.
"Nathan Chiarlitti, a 6'0" - 185lb. defenceman for the Sarnia Sting was kind enough to take a few moments out of his busy schedule as the Sting wind down their 2009-2010 OHL season, for an interview with myself. Nathan is eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles this June. Here is our conversation.
Ryan Yessie: In your OHL draft year, your team went on a great run in the OHL Cup making it to the finals against the Jr. Canadiens, which included a double overtime win in the semi-finals. What was that experience like, and is there anything specific you take from that experience that helps you now?
Nathan Chiarlitti: That experience was incredible. Playing against guys that were ranked so high in the OHL draft gave me a preview of what it would be like to compete against that type of player. The win against Elgin in the semis was huge just because of the pressure of OT and playing against Shipley and McKegg, two of the more highly ranked players in the draft.
RY: You were drafted by Sarnia in the 5th round of the OHL Priority Selection in 2008. You have been noted several times already in your OHL career for your academic success. What was your stance in terms of the OHL vs. NCAA on draft day? Did you have a commitment in mind if you chose NCAA and what made you choose the OHL over NCAA if it was a bit of a decision for you?
NC: On draft day I really wasn't 100% certain on the OHL's stance on academics and because it was so highly regarded in my family I was leaning toward the NCAA route. I didn't have a commitment but some schools were interested. I chose the OHL just because of the high regard for academics and fully understanding that it was possible to play in the O and still take school seriously.
RY: You won Gold with Team Ontario in the Under 17 Challenge in January of 2009, and appeared to play with more confidence during the remainder of the season. Was this the case, and what kind of impact did that experience have on you?
NC: Yeah, I think it was. I mean my main role on the team was to play a shut down role and kill penalties. As the tournament progressed I got a little more confidence and became more comfortable which eventually translated to the later part of the season with the Sting.
RY: Also you were part of a selective group of 5 OHL defencemen that went to the Team Canada Under 18 selection camp this past summer. What was that like, and did it do anything in terms of preparing you for this season?
NC: The U-18 experience was incredible because I was being recognized as one of the top players in Canada. It gave me a chance to play against guys like Brett Connolly from out West and compete against some of the top Junior talent in the country. All summer I trained and worked for the chance to play but it didn't work out; so I guess I came out of the summer with a little more experience and confidence just because I was selected to play at such a prestigious event.
RY: Who do you feel are the toughest forwards to defend against in the OHL?
NC: Holland and Beck. They're chemistry is ridiculous and its so hard to defend against. Jeff Skinner, shifty with great hockey sense.
Hall and Seguin... fast, smart, and could score at will.
RY: What do you feel is your greatest asset as a hockey player?
NC: I think I am more of a defensive defenceman who has a good stick and is responsible in all three zones. I take pride in winning one on one battles and I never want to lose any of them in games. I also like to jump into the rush when the opportunity is there, which I think I've shown in the second half of the season.
RY: What part of your game do you feel you need to work on the most?
NC: My speed and skating are definitely two things I'd like to work on this summer. Just lengthening my stride and getting quick bursts would probably be the things I'd want to focus on the most.
RY: You have been a leader at virtually every level of hockey you‘ve played. With a young team in Sarnia along with the departure of captain Jordan Hill, you are highly speculated to be the next captain of the Sarnia Sting. What do you believe it is about you that makes you a leader?
NC: I think what makes me a leader is my work ethic. I'm not the most talented player by any stretch but I want to outwork anyone on the ice. I compete shift in shift out and I try and lead by example, acting as a role model for some of the younger guys on the team and people in the community.
RY: Being from the Toronto area, are you a Maple Leafs fan?
NC: I'm definitely not a Leafs fan. I've been a Lidstrom fan from about 5 years old, so I've loved the Wings ever since they beat Philly in the cup finals way back, maybe 1998 I think.
RY: What makes Nicklas Lidstrom your favorite player?
NC: Nicklas Lidstrom is my favorite player because he keeps the game simple, has the most incredible hockey sense and is respected by almost everyone in the game. He competes every game and leads by example.
RY: Is there an NHL player you can compare your style of play to, and if so, why?
NC: I don't really compare myself to anyone but I would want to try and emulate someone like Willie Mitchell or Robyn Regehr because they're more defensively minded and play a shut down role on their respected teams.
RY: Some scouting services have you pegged anywhere between 4th/6th Round where others have you unranked. Do you spend very much time thinking about the draft rankings, and does it affect the way you play at all?
NC: I think its in the back of every players mind but I realized if I don't get drafted this year its not the end of the world. If anything it would motivate me to prove so many different people wrong. So I guess its always in the back of your head, its just a matter of controlling the thoughts and not letting it distract you while your playing.
RY: Have you talked to any NHL scouts yet? If so what kind of feedback are you getting from them?
NC: I have talked to some NHL scouts, and they just told me as a smaller defenseman i have to get my feet moving and keep my head up. Those two things would help me get out of tight situations and allow me to make some plays.
I would like to thank Nathan again for taking his time in doing this, and wish him the best of luck the rest of this season, as well as in June at the draft."
Thanks to Ryan for getting this done and for a great read!