I had a chance to speak with Ohio State sophomore Zac Dalpe on his breakout season and what could be in store for the Carolina second round pick down the road. After posting 63 points in 46 games in the BCHL with Penticton in 2007/2008, Dalpe was selected by the Hurricanes with the 45th Overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. With a strong freshman showing a year ago totalling 13 goals and 25 points, Dalpe has taken the next step this season and is one of the most dangerous offensive forwards in the NCAA despite being only 20 years old. Here’s my interview with the soft spoken Paris, Ontario native.
SC – Scott Campbell
ZD – Zac Dalpe
SC: You’re obviously having a breakout year, sitting 5th in the CCHA scoring race with 10 goals and 9 assists through 20 games, what do you attribute your breakout to from your freshman year to this season?
ZD: It was definitely a big transition from my freshman year to my sophomore season. I think when you make the adjustment it’s just about finding a comfort level. I didn’t let anything get to my head and it was just about putting in the work during the off-season to add some strength and help refine my game.
SC: It looks like Coach Markell is showing a lot of confidence in you this season. Who have you been playing with mostly this season, and how much time are you seeing on special teams?
ZD: We’ve had some struggles scoring goals this year, so we’ve been juggling the lines quite a bit throughout the season. I’ve spent most of my time with Sergio (Somma) and Peter (Boyd) and we’ve established some good chemistry, though. As for the special teams, I’ve been playing there quite a bit, I think the Coach sees that I’m a puck hungry type player and he’s been giving me ice on both the PP and PK.
SC: Do you feel like you relish the pressure of being counted on to be the guy that’s producing for the Buckeyes on a nightly basis?
ZD: Obviously there’s a lot of pressure to produce on a consistent basis, especially when our team isn’t producing a lot of offense thus far, but it’s definitely a challenge I embrace. I love being that guy who the team can count on to score a big goal in a game, whether it’s the insurance goal in a tight game, or a goal that gets our team back into the game.
SC: You’ve definitely had an interesting route to get to where you are now, talk a little bit about what it was like to leave Ontario to play in the BCHL with Penticton?
ZD: At first I wasn’t really sure what to expect moving so far away from home at only 18 years old, but I fell in love with the city really quickly which made the adjustment really easy.
SC: When did you begin to realize that you might have a good shot to get drafted in 07/08, and did it change your approach to the game in any regard?
ZD: I think I started to realize it when I was putting together a strong rookie campaign with Penticton. Scouts started talking to me, but I tried not to put too much stock into where they’re projecting me or anything. I think it’s just important to keep focused and play your game without distractions.
SC: You participated in your second training camp with the Hurricanes this fall, was there anything different about your second camp as opposed to coming into your first professional camp?
ZD: It was just another aspect of having a better comfort level of what to expect. You have an idea of what type of work ethic you need to stand out, and the familiarity obviously helps a lot.
SC: The Plymouth Whalers took a bit of a flyer pick on you in the second round in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection. How much consideration did you give the OHL route, and did you ever seriously consider passing up on Ohio State?
ZD: It was definitely a bit of a surprise to get drafted, but I explored all my options and gave the OHL route some consideration before making my decision. In the end I decided that I wanted to go to school, and maintained my commitment to Ohio State.
SC: What are your thoughts on the NCAA in regards to attending class as well as playing competitive hockey at an elite level? How do you go about maintaining the balance between both aspects of college?
ZD: At a big football school like Ohio State you definitely fly under the radar a bit being a hockey player, but you do have to manage your time well. I’m really driven as a hockey player, but I make sure I have a happy median between class and hockey.
SC: Has Carolina been in touch with you at all throughout the season thus far, and what are your plans in regards to turning pro down the road?
ZD: They’ve been at quite a few games to keep tabs on me I guess you could say. At this point I want to play pro as soon as I can, because I can hold off on finishing school until later. As soon as I get the opportunity to make the jump to pro, I’m going to take it.
SC: Your younger brother Ben, is eligible for the OHL Priority Selection this season. Have you been offering him any advice on whether he should take the OHL path or the NCAA path?
ZD: He’s old enough to know the pros and cons of both the OHL and NCAA routes. Personally I’m impartial to either path as both have a lot of upside to offer a hockey player. I think it’s good for him to have as much knowledge as he can about the OHL Draft, and then he can make the decision from there.
SC: Thanks for speaking with us, Zac, and good luck the rest of the season.
ZD: No problem at all.
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