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Ask a Pro: Predators prospect Mark Dekanich

Nashville Predators goalie prospect Mark Dekanich

Nashville Predators goalie prospect Mark Dekanich is again among the best goalies in the American Hockey League. (InGoal file photo)

Nashville puck-stopping prospect Mark Dekanich is poised to become the next in a long list of really good to great goaltenders produced by the Predators.

Drafted in the fifth round, 146th overall, after winning the Ken Dryden award as the top goaltender in the ECAC during his sophomore season at Colgate University, the North Vancouver native completed four seasons of NCAA hockey before moving up to the American Hockey League in 2008-09 and quickly ripping off a .930 save percentage in 30 games as a first-year pro.

After a slight statistical dip – and two games in the ECHL – last season, the 24-year-old is back at the top of the league this season with a .931 save percentage and 2.02 goals-against average, pulling the Milwaukee Admirals up near the top with him.

The 6-foot-2 stopper has already surpassed higher draft picks Jeremy Smith and Chet Pickard on the Predators depth chart, and if not for an impressive early showing by 6-foot-6 Swede Anders “The Giant” Lindback would likely be backing up Vezina Trophy candidate Pekka Rinne in the NHL already. Instead he’s settled for a couple of call ups to sit on the bench, and one brief relief appearance that will count as his NHL debut. Talk to most observers, however, and it it probably won’t be long before Dekanich is there full time.

In the meantime Dekanich (or @dexshow as he is known to his more than 1,600 loyal followers on twitter) was gracious enough to take the time to answer questions from InGoal subscribers in this week’s Ask a Pro:

Nashville Predators goalie prospect Mark Dekanich

Predators prospect Mark Dekanich shows Admirals fans what it means to "Dexshow" (InGoal file photo)

~ InGoal subscriber Jack Pauro asks: What kind of off-ice workouts do you do in the summers?

Mark Dekanich:

“My off-ice workouts are very intense. I do a lot of circuits – maintaining a high heart rate while working on my strength. I like to use s lot of kettle bell and TRX exercises with my trainer as well as using muscle release techniques using the TravelRoller. I pride myself in being the best in shape on the team come training camp.”

~ Reader Daniel Migneault has a good follow up: What time period did you start training hard to get to the big leagues?

Mark Dekanich:

“I started training hard and with a personal trainer when I was 15 years old. Before that, I would work out on my own but never focused on hockey specific training.”

Nashville Predators goalie prospect Mark Dekanich

Predators top puck-stopping prospect Mark Dekanich makes a save for the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL. (InGoal file photo)

Mark Dekanich Shootout

~ My style + one thing I am trying to do better: “I guess I am more of a hybrid-type guy. I really try to use my athleticism and not be a robot the way I see many guys developing these days. I am always trying to work on my positioning and technique though – as the speed of the game increases, these aspects must develop with them, otherwise you’ll be dead in the water!”

~ My advice for young goalies: “HAVE FUN! That’s the most important thing when you’re young and it’s still the most important thing at this level. I try to remind myself every day to relax and enjoy.”

~ What’s in my bag: “I wear Vaughn everything. I just got the new Velocity 7900 pad which I love. I usually hate new gear and it takes me 2 weeks+ to break in pads but I wore this set once and played a game the next night. It’s a new model and I’m excited to be one of the first guys to be wearing them. I use a stock Vaughn blocker and the original V1 glove. It’s pretty old school but I can’t stand any other glove. Vaughn pants and chest. We get 2 sets of pads per season and 4 blockers and gloves.”

~ Number of knots in my toe tie: “One knot about an inch away from the toe of the pad.”

~ My skates sharpened at: “1/2 inch hollow in my skates. Hate new steel, would keep the same skates forever if I could but I wear one pair per year to keep the trainers happy.”

~ What’s in the iPod? “Loving Eminem, Drake, Lil Wayne, Lloyd Bank$ and stuff like that right now. Can’t wait for the new Dr. Dre album “Detox” to come out. I will definitely be rocking that one pre-game for a while.”

~ VH or 1-pad down is: “Totally overused! There is always a time and place but this one gets used way too often. Valuable in certain situations for sure, but totally played out in general. Be athletic and react! Blocking has a time and a place.”

~ InGoal reader Jill asks: We know (from twitter) you play a lot of Call of Duty – can gaming help you as a goalie in any way? vision? eye-hand?

Mark Dekanich:

“I don’t think playing video games can improve your skills as a goalie, your vision, or your hand-eye coordination. I do think being able to free your mind from hockey through any medium can help to improve your consistency and help to release stress. I use playing video games, reading books, or taking my dog for a walk to free myself from a stressful job!”

~ Subscriber Freddie J asks: You got a taste of the NHL recently – what is the biggest difference from the AHL? Off the ice? Is the preparation different with coach Korn, and if so, in what way? What are the best and worst parts of life in the AHL?

Mark Dekanich:

“The biggest difference between the NHL and the American League is the quality of the top end players. The best players in the NHL are much better than the top players in the AHL; however, I still think there are many players in the American League who can play in the National League. Another difference is the consistency of skill in the NHL – the best players do what they want to do, when they want to, every time.

“Preparation is a little different in the NHL. Before every game we get a thumb drive with all the recent goals the opponent has scored and their top shootout guys. We don’t get this luxury in the AHL. The best part: Playing hockey as a job. Worst: Schedule. 3 in threes are killer. We just played 11 games in 16 days. Being away from my family is the hardest part.”

Nashville Predators goalie prospect Mark Dekanich

Mark Dekanich uses 1-pad down, or VH, when needed but says the blocking technique is overused - see the Shootout column on the right for more quick thoughts. (InGoal file photo)

~InGoal reader Tommy Adams has a somewhat related question: What is your favorite city to play in?

Mark Dekanich:

“Any of the Texas cities are my favourite to play in. Obviously not because of the ice quality, but because of the weather outside the rink. A goalie’s body feels better in heat than in cold!”

~ Subscriber Tristan McLoughlin asks: What do you do to get over a bad goal in a game? And how do you prepare for each game?

Mark Dekanich:

“I try to take pride in my consistency and with that I believe in a rigid mental and physical routine before games so that every game feels the same. I do the same thing every game to prepare. I do warm up dynamically and then work my hand-eye by using a reaction ball before I put my equipment on. As for getting over a bad goal, you just have to let it go. I use a laser and zap it in my mind. It really doesn’t matter what type of goal it was or how it went in, you just have to let it go and move on. Try taking a deep breath, blinking, and getting ready for the face-off – it’s gone.”

~ InGoal reader Hudson Offereins writes: I’m a goalie in Abbotsford, B.C. and I have the lowest goals against and I was wondering if you have a bad game how do you get back in your groove?

Mark Dekanich:

Nashville Predators goalie prospect Mark Dekanich

Mark Dekanich makes a nice glove save (InGoal file photo)

“First of all, congratulations on your season, sounds like you had/are having a great one! As for the question, those games happen – it’s hockey. If we never had a bad game, everyone would be in the NHL. For bad games, I always try to keep my head up and treat it as another game. It may be easier since we play 80+ in a season, but simply moving on and preparing for the next game regardless of your last one can help to relieve yourself of a past performance. It is important to bounce back the next game to instil confidence in your teammates so get out there and have some fun. It is just a game after all!”

~ Subscriber Daniel Rodis asks: How much communication do you do on the ice?

Mark Dekanich:

“I try to communicate as much as possible during a game. I’m always yelling to let my teammates know how much time they have, when and where to make a pass, and the options that our opponents have. I don’t think you can ever have too much communication. Even if you or your teammate makes the wrong call, it’s still better than no call. On my team we have a set vocabulary of terms that we use with each other. It helps to eliminate confusion during high tempo plays and the pace of a game.

“I like to do video with our goalie coach as often as our schedules allow. It is a great tool to help you analyze your game. Every once in a while we do a D and goalie session to go over our recent exchanges and critique our performances.”

Nashville Predators goalie prospect Mark Dekanich

Special thanks to Mark Dekanich for taking the time to answer questions from InGoal Magazine readers.

About The Author

Kevin Woodley

Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News magazine. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and covered the 2010 Olympics for The AP.

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