Gopher Hockey Q&A: Nate Condon

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Nate Condon
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Didn't have a chance to read Nate Condon's Q&A in our game program for the Wisconsin series? No worries, check it out now. We talked to Condon about coming from Wisconsin, what makes him such a fast skater and which Gopher would play Johnny Drama from HBO's Entourage. 

You're one of just three Wisconsin natives to play hockey at the University of Minnesota. What made you decide to be a Gopher?

During the whole recruiting process, Coach Lucia and the staff were really good to me. They were actually one of the first programs that recruited me. I really enjoy the style of play that we have here at Minnesota, and it's a great school. It was just an easy pick for me to be a Gopher.

Do you remember your first memory of playing hockey?

My first hockey memory would probably just be playing pond hockey with my brothers and my dad --actually my older brother kind of got me into it. My dad would come out in boots and play with us because he can't skate.

Your older brother, Nick, just graduated after playing hockey at Notre Dame, and another brother, Ryan, plays lacrosse at Marquette. How much of a sibling rivalry do you have with them?

My older brother was always a defenseman growing up and with me being a forward, it was always me against him. That just kind of grew as we got older. There's always been a lot of competition between us, but along with that we've supported each other along the way. It's a positive rivalry. When it comes down to it, we're still brothers and we'll always support each other. It's always been that way with Ryan too especially when it comes to lacrosse.

How did playing lacrosse help you become a better hockey player?

The funny thing about lacrosse is that I was always kind of a physical guy - I don't know how. I know a lot of other guys on the team like Christian Horn are big lacrosse guys too. It's the same thing as hockey, you're just playing above your head. There's a lot of contact and slashing - actually slashing hurts worse in lacrosse because you're not wearing any pads. It's basically the same concept when it comes down to it.

Last weekend in Anchorage, Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco were discussing the fastest skaters to ever play at Minnesota, and your name came up. How much does your speed enhance your game?

Skating has always come naturally to me. I started playing when I was younger, and it's just something that I could always do. On the ice, speed is always going to help you. It's always helpful to be able to move faster than your opponent.

You're off to another great start this season with eight points (two goals, six assists) in nine games. How have you continued to develop since your freshman season?

I think it's a lot like junior hockey. Once you get used to the pace at the college level - faster, stronger skaters - thing start to come a little easier. Staying around campus the last two summers and working out with Cal Dietz, our strength and conditioning coach, has also helped me improve and get bigger and faster. When you can hold your own on the ice, it's a lot easier to make plays against some of the big bruts in this league.

Obviously, the college hockey landscape is going to change next year with Minnesota moving to the Big Ten Conference. How do you feel about the move?

The WCHA has so much history - a lot of great players and great teams have been successful in this league - and being able to say I played in this conference is a privilege. I also think the Big Ten is going to be a lot of fun for us and a great experience especially as a senior. I'm looking forward to playing Penn State. The guys are going to have a lot of fun playing in all of these Big Ten rivalries.

You don't hide you allegiances to professional sports in Wisconsin. Does that ever make things difficult in a locker room full of guys that root for Minnesota sports?

I'm still a Packer fan. When the Packers won the Super Bowl, it was a great year for me. Zach Budish, and Joey Miller are two of the most die-hard Vikings fans I've ever seen. I've gotten into it with Zach a couple of times, and Zach's a touchy guy. If I say anything about the Vikings, he'll take it to heart. It's been easy for me the last couple years, but this year it's a little close. Hopefully, the Packers can start winning again, and the Vikings start losing again.

What's your must-watch show on TV?

I love Entourage on HBO. One of my good friends - Eamonn McDermott, who plays at Colorado College - got me hooked on it. He's obsessed with it. It's just about living the life, the guys just hang out and have fun together - there's nothing wrong with that.

If you had to cast the show using Gophers, who would you pick?

You've got Vincent Chase - the stud movie star - we'll give that to Nick Bjugstad because he's a big celebrity, and everywhere he goes, somebody recognizes him. His assistant Eric is the brains of the operation - let's say Kyle Rau. Turtle's the driver, and that would be Budish because he shuttles Bjugstad around campus everywhere. Then you've got Johnny Drama - Vinnie's older brother. Kind of a funny, goofy character. We'll go with Jared Larson for that. Lastly, you've got Ari Gold - Vinnie's agent. He's got these legendary tantrums and amazing one liners. Definitely Coach Guentzel. He probably has better one liners than Ari though.  

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