Simon Machálek is our first Husky hockey player feature this season on SeattleSinBin.com. The 5'11" left-handed shooting defenseman is in his sophomore season at Washington. In his freshman (2014-2015) season, he scored 12 points (all assists) in 23 games with 14 penalty minutes. This season he has four points, all via assists too. We go over Simon's thoughts on the season, how he found out about the UW having a club hockey team and who he idolized in hockey while being in his hometown of Pilsen, Czech Republic.
Q: How did you begin playing collegiate hockey at the UW and were you aware that the school had a club hockey program?
A: Coming to the University of Washington, I had no clue that the university had a hockey team. During the orientation for the international students, I asked some people which told me that they have heard about the team, so I did some research and immediately got in touch with the coach.
Q: What are you studying at UW and are you focused on a degree program or currently undeclared at the moment?
A: I am a Political Science major. It was a very easy choice for me. I cannot really imagine studying anything else. I have been interested in politics since I was a little kid, it has been my passion for years. It is great to study something that I love.
Q: You are from the Czech Republic , where several (current and former) NHL players have produced their skills. Who did you idolized while growing up there?
A: Hockey is really big in my home country. For us it is basically just hockey and soccer, other sports are not really popular to watch. Obviously I have always admired Jaromir Jagr who is a hockey god for us. But for the most part, my hockey idol has been David Krejci from the Boston Bruins. His skills, dedication to the game and personality are just amazing.
Q: What was it like playing with Ryan Minkoff last season and what do you miss about having him as your teammate?
A: Ryan is an incredible player and a great guy off the ice as well. He is definitely one of the best players I have ever played with. That being said, we obviously miss his hockey skills, but we also miss him a lot in the locker room. It is awesome that he is continuing his hockey career in Finland. Ryan is going to come over to visit me in Czech during Christmas this year, so I cannot wait to see him again.
Q: We are now nine games into the season. It seems that the team has seen signs of improvements especially in conference play. What is your assessment on this year's club so far?
A: We are a really young team. We have a lot of new guys, so we are still progressing in finding some chemistry and in building the team's identity. There is a lot of talent though. I am sure that we will keep improving step by step. I expect a lot from this team.
Q: How comfortable are you playing as a defenseman? Like Troy Gasser, you take your shots on goal from the blueline quite often. Does increasing the team's scoring opportunities rattle your opponents a little bit?
A: I have always been playing on defense so it is a natural position for me. It is true that I try to take shots a lot, especially this year since I feel more comfortable playing than last year, when I was adapting to the game and getting used to the different style of play. Unlike Troy though, I don't score goals so I will need to talk to him and get some advice.
Q: What has been your favorite part of being on this team so far?
A: Just being part of the group. We are a family in which we all support each other. Playing for University of Washington is a dream come true for me. I love everything about it and I am enjoying every single moment.
Photo credit: University of Washington Huskies Hockey Club