Eric Knodel is a 1990 DOB with great size (6-6, 220). After viewing him in early fall, Knodel looked to be a raw project, but his solid weekend showing at the recent Beantown Spring Classic proved that he is starting to come together nicely and making great strides in his game. His biggest improvement has been his skating along with making strong, quick passes up the ice. He showed the ability to make the stretch pass and has good vision. Knodel has a quick shot from the point with decent accuracy. He uses his long reach to his advantage but also is willing to be physical along the boards.
McKeen's correspondent Vincent Montalbano was able to talk with Knodel and discussed among other things, his game, his future plans, his hockey past and expectations for the remainder of the season.
McKeen's: How did you become interested in hockey? At what age did you start playing organized hockey?
Knodel: My father played as a kid and got me interested. I started skating when I was three and started playing in-house league when I was five.
McKeen's: Describe the type of game you play. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
Knodel: I am a shutdown defenseman. My hockey sense and hands are my best assets. My reach is also a good asset, but I always need to keep working on my footwork and speed.
McKeen's: What would you say is the most underrated facet to your game?
Knodel: I am much faster than people think. I also have a much better offensive game than people give me credit for. I always play team first so that can hurt your offensive stats. I take pride in my plus/minus stats.
McKeen's: Which NHL player do you model your game after and why?
Knodel: I wear #5 for Nick Lidstrom but I also watch a lot of Braydon Coburn. I think that I can play like he does.
McKeen's: Who are the five most talented players you've played against and what specifically do you admire about their styles?
McKeen's: Did you always play for the Jr. Flyers organization, if not, where did you play before? What made you decide to stay and play for the Jr. Flyers this past season?
Knodel: I have always played at the same rink. It's five minutes from my house. I started with in-house and played AA Mites, PeeWees, and Bantams with the West Chester Quakers. I played AAA Squirts, Jr. B, and two years of AAA Midget Major 18U with the Jr. Flyers. I stayed with the Jr. Flyers for the second season because they have a good tournament schedule and I wanted to finish my senior year at my High School.
McKeen's: What colleges are you currently considering?
Knodel: I want to play in one of the major college conferences- Hockey East or the CCHA or WCHA. There aren't many schools in those leagues that I wouldn't play for.
McKeen's: You played midget hockey this past season, where are you planning to play next year?
Knodel: I am definitely playing Junior hockey next season. I want to start playing college hockey in 2010. Hopefully, I will be able to play for a team in the USHL next season.
McKeen's: What were your expectations coming into this season? Is your team going to the Nationals?
Knodel: Our goal was to win both our league and district playoffs, which we did. Nationals are in Pittsburgh this year and we are hoping to do well. I was also hoping to get some looks by schools and junior programs and that is starting to happen.
McKeen's: Describe your summer? Do you play a lot of hockey or relax and workout? What do you focus on during off-season training?
Knodel: Last summer was the first summer that I ever spent playing and working out for hockey. Normally, I stop playing in March and don't skate again until mid August because I played a lot of baseball. I didn't play summer baseball last year and skipped school baseball this year to concentrate on hockey. Because I did, I am seeing better gains in my strength and speed. I started working out with some minor pro and college players four days a week last summer and plan on doing it again this summer.
McKeen's: Is there any NHL team that you follow closely?
Knodel: I follow the Flyers because we live here, but I also love watching the Red Wings.
McKeen's: Which areas do you consider you have to improve to succeed in the next level in college and further?
Knodel: I always need to keep working on my strength and balance. I would like to add 10-to-15 pounds more before I get into college.
McKeen's Five Fun Questions:
1. What has been your best hockey moment so far? (Goal, hit, etc.)
Knodel: Winning a bronze medal at Nationals my 16 and under year.
2. Best thing about living in the Philadelphia area?
Knodel: Good weather, good pro sports teams and good food.
3. Favorite actor/ actress?
Knodel: Anyone who makes me laugh.
4. If you had your own theme song, what would it be?