Six Questions with Jeremy Smith
By Alan Fuehring, SoundTigers.com
Believe it or not, we're less than two months from training camp and the start of the 2018-19 campaign. It will mark the Sound Tigers' 18th season in the American Hockey League, and the first in Bridgeport for goaltender Jeremy Smith, who agreed to an AHL contract earlier this month.
Smith is entering his 10th professional season and ninth in the AHL. He is a two-time AHL Player of the Week recipient and currently boasts a 145-111-20 record with a 2.45 goals-against-average and 13 shutouts in 295 career AHL games. The Dearborn, Mich. native was initially selected by Nashville in the second round (54th overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft and spent each of his first four seasons in the Predators system – the majority of that with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals. He also helped the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones capture the 2010 Kelly Cup and was named playoffs Co-MVP as a rookie that year.
The 29-year-old spent all of last season with the AHL's Charlotte Checkers and made his NHL debut with the Colorado Avalanche in 2016-17. And while things are calm in the hockey world for now, we sat down with Bridgeport's newest netminder to learn about his pro journey, what brought him to the Park City, and more.
1. How would you describe your playing style for the fans in Bridgeport who have never seen you in action?
JS: “I'm an athletic goalie who does anything I can to stop the puck. I would consider my style as quick and explosive, and I'm really just an intense competitor at heart. I'm comfortable playing the puck and typically try to be a third defenseman in order to help make breakouts easier and more efficient for our team.”
2. What brought you to the Sound Tigers?
JS: “I think it was just a great opportunity for my career. I know how hard they battle and I've always been impressed with how tough they are to play against. I've faced them with Providence (2014-16), Springfield (2013-14), and most recently Charlotte (2017-18), so I know a little bit about what Brent Thompson expects and how competitive his teams are. I wanted to be a part of that.”
3. You made your professional debut with the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL) in 2009. Now as you enter your 10th pro season, what have been the most challenging and rewarding parts of your career thus far?
JS: “The most challenging part of my career was waiting longer than I wanted to make my NHL debut. I've had a lot of success in the AHL and I had backed up for many teams in the NHL, but it was tough to be patient until I finally got my first game. I know I can play at that level and still want to establish myself in the NHL. By that same token, my NHL debut with Colorado (Feb. 14, 2017 at New Jersey) was definitely the most rewarding part of my career. It's what you work your whole life for and it's an experience I will never forget.”
4. Your NHL debut in 2016-17 followed seven-plus years in the AHL/ECHL. What does that say about you?
JS: “I think it's a true testament to the type of person I am. I'm extremely passionate in everything I do and I'm very loyal to the game. I was lucky enough to have my family and girlfriend in attendance there in New Jersey, and I think they were actually more relieved than I was because of everything they've gone through along this journey too. I remember being so nervous before the game, but as soon as the puck dropped, it was just another game. It's the same thing you've been doing your whole life. Just go out there and do what you do.”
5. What are you most excited for this season?
JS: “I'm pumped for the team we are going to have. I've been part of some great clubs in the past and our roster has all of the makings of another exceptional team. The new signings combined with Bridgeport's returning guys show that we'll have veteran leaders, solid youth and the depth is phenomenal. I just want to be the goalie that this group can rely on.”
6. What's something odd that most people don't know about you?
JS: “Well, I'm a goalie so I guess I'm weird all around by nature (chuckling). That's a tough question, but I guess I'd go with the fact that I'm a professional hockey player, yet neither of my parents played. They were high school sweethearts… my dad was a football player and my mom was a cheerleader, so I guess that's where I get my athleticism. When I was three or four, my older brother asked if he could play hockey and my parents were like ‘Hockey? Why hockey?' So they called my grandma because she was the only one in the family who knew how to skate. She taught us. Once we got to mites, usually they rotate goalies in and out of the lineup, but I was really good so they kept me in. Occasionally, I'd try other positions, but I played the game like a football player so I couldn't stay out of the box. I was always best in the crease.”