Junior Justin Holl was our featured Gopher in this weekend's game program. We asked Justin about periodically playing forward (he tallied two assists in his debut as a wing this season), which road trip is his favorite, what he does away from the rink and, most importantly, if his infamous moustache will be returning this November. Couldn't get your hands on a game program? We've got you covered.
Gophersports: You're from Tonka Bay, Minn. Did you follow the Gophers growing up?
Holl: "I grew up being a Minnesota fan. My parents attended the University of Minnesota, so they were Gopher fans, and I remember watching the team growing up specifically the 2002 National Championship game, when (current Gophers assistant coach) Grant Potulny scored the winning goal. I wanted to be a Gopher my entire life. When they offered the scholarship, it was a no-brainer that I would go here."
You are normally a defenseman, but you have been called on to play forward for the team at times this year. How have you been able to adapt to the different role when called upon?
"The positions are different. It has been a little bit of adjustment playing forward, I have not played forward since bantams. It definitely requires a little more thinking when I am on the ice. Especially, when I switch positions during the game."
You played at forward on opening weekend against Michigan State and had a pair of assists. It must have felt good to get off to a strong start as a forward.
"I was really excited about that. I want to contribute to the team anyway I can with hits, assists, or goals. I just make an impact. I think one of the responsibilities of the fourth line is to bring energy and momentum to the team. If things are not going our way, we need to get a good shift in and get some offensive-zone pressure."
Does the fact that you developed as an offensive-minded defenseman help you when you move to forward?
"Yeah I definitely think it helps a little bit. Having some offensive instincts and speed that you can bring to the front line is good too."
NHL players come back in the summer to workout with the team, and they have recently been around to play a charity game to benefit Defending The Blue Line. What do you learn from watching the NHL players?
"I definitely learn a lot. They are NHLers, and they are a step above anything we can do. It's the little things they do that make them better, and it's fun to watch them. Especially some of the defenseman like Paul Martin and Keith Ballard. It's interesting to watch what they do on two-on-ones, breakouts, and all the little things that make their game a little easier."
What is your favorite road trip of the year?
"I actually really like going to Anchorage. I think it is really fun, even though it is far away, and the time difference is rough. It was fun to go somewhere new and different."
You will get a chance to go back to Alaska next week. Can you describe your game day routine?
"I will eat a quick breakfast at home before coming to the rink for pregame skate and the team meeting. Then, we eat a big meal as a team. My roommates and I usually play Mario Kart for an hour before shutting it down to take a nap for about two hours. Then, I get up and get ready to play a game."
3-on-3 NHL Arcade was listed as one of your favorite activities off the ice, is that a game you play to relax before a game?
"I still enjoy the game. We just don't have an Xbox right now with the game on it. We switched over to Mario Kart with the old Nintendo 64. We play way too much Mario Kart at our place."
I heard you are an avid wiffleball player, when do you hone your skills?
My friends and I have a big wiffleball tournament at the end of the summer every year. We have about 50 guys that end up going to the tournament, so there are a lot of teams. My team won the first year, but since we have not been able to replicate the magic. I think I'm washed up now, but it is still pretty fun."
Will you be breaking out your "Movember mustache" again this year?
"You better believe it! I got a little head start on it. I don't think I will be shaving until the end of November now."
By Minnesota Communication Student Intern Josh Brennock