Photo by Rena Laverty
It’s going to be a busy summer for Patrick Khodorenko as he wraps up his National Team Development Program career on May 27, heads back home to California for about a month, and then returns to Michigan, which has become his “second” home, in July.
“I’m going to go back home for a while and skate and lift. I’ll get a little break before I have to come back here,” said Khodorenko, a native of Walnut Creek, California. “I’ll be starting college at Michigan State University in July. I’ll be taking two online classes and will start working out and skating with the hockey team.”
The decision to attend MSU was easy for Khodorenko.
“The situation was good for me,” the 6-foot, 197-pound forward said. “They haven’t had the best seasons lately. I felt I could step in and get ice time. I really think it was a good fit. I will get to play in a good arena. I have lived in Michigan for four years now and I feel comfortable here. I have some friends who are going there, too.”
He already played against his future college game on Jan. 23, when the U18s dropped a 3-2 overtime decision on the road at Munn Ice Arena.
“It was a great atmosphere. The student section and the band seemed to be having fun,” Khodorenko said. “It’s not the biggest rink, but it’s a good one. It was a tight game with them, so that was fun, even if we lost in overtime.”
Khodorenko’s second year with the NTDP did not go as he had hoped, as injuries sidelined him throughout the season, but he was able to take some positives out of his second year with the program.
“It was tough, especially at the end when I couldn’t experience it all [at the IIHF U18 Men’s World Championship],” said Khodorenko, who finished the season with seven goals and 13 points in 43 games. “It was definitely a tough season. I don’t think I ever have ever had a season with this many injuries and missing this many games.
“I need to continue to prepare for the future. I still have a year before I can be drafted, so I am just working to get better every single day.”
Since arriving at the NTDP, Khodorenko said his speed and strength have grown the most, which he credits to the coaching staff.
“I have gotten faster, and with the workouts I have gotten leaner and stronger,” he said. “I can definitely get away from players that I couldn’t before.
“The skating treadmill has been the biggest factor in my speed. It’s probably the hardest thing we have to do. Carrie Keil [the skating coach] has worked with me on my stride and my endurance. I got plenty of off-ice work with Darryl Nelson [the strength and conditioning coach]. Everything helps in your development.”
For those who follow Khodorenko into the NTDP, he has some simple advice.
“You need to get better every day,” he said. “You come in with a goal and you want to get 4 percent better every day. If you do this, you will be two times better than when you came in.”
When Khodorenko leaves the NTDP, he’ll carry with him many great memories, one of them being the first time he pulled on the Team USA sweater.
“It’s always fun to put it on and represent the USA,” Khodorenko said. “I feel proud to put it on. To go to the rink and see it hanging in the locker room is an experience like no other. I’m still amazed I got to experience it.”
This might explain why his best memory is the squad’s first tournament title, the Five Nations in Monthey, Switzerland, this past November.
“It was nice to go there and get the win,” he said. “I know we won every game. One game that I remember is the game against Sweden [a 4-3 win]. They had a 5-on-3 in the last minute of the game and then they pulled the goalie, and it was a 6-on-3. We kept the puck out of the net. It was a group effort.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo by Rena Laverty
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Patrick Kane or T.J. Oshie
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Call of Duty
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"Dream On" by Aerosmith
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