Thursday, June 23, 2011

Prospect Pursuit: Pat Koudys - Like Father, Like Son

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     Like father, like son.  The phrase goes back a long way and has been taken to heart by many men.  But Pat Koudys (pronounced cow-DICE) wants to up the ante a bit and do what his father was never able to…play in the NHL.  A 12th round pick by the New York Islanders in the 80’s, Jim Koudys just couldn’t crack the NHL, but his son seems to have a very different future ahead of him.
     At the ripe age of 18, Koudys hasn’t even filled out his 6’4”, 210-pound frame.  What he has done, however, is powered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers back into contention for the NCAA championship.  After having been aching for an opportunity on college hockey’s biggest stage for 6 years, RPI finally clinched a berth in the NCAA tournament, in large part to the mammoth blue liner.
     RPI has had some infamous names lace up for them over the years.  Most noticeable of these are Adam Oates, Joe Juneau, Brian Pothier, and a highly talked about Leafs prospect, Jerry D’Amigo.  Pat Koudys is the next in a long line of future NHL players, but let’s not rush these things.  He has to be drafted first, of course, and mock drafts have him pegged anywhere as high as 2nd round pick to a possible 5th, or even 6th rounder (absolutely ludicrous, in my opinion).
Prospect Pursuit: When did you start playing hockey?

Pat Koudys: I first started playing hockey when I was around five or six, but I have been on skates since I have been around two or three.

PP: Who was your biggest influence?

PK: My dad, for me, has, for sure, been my biggest influence for both on and off the ice.  He has helped me so much to become the player that I am today and he was drafted and played pro hockey, so his experience had helped a lot, too.

PP: Who was your favorite team/player(s) growing up and why?

PK:  What I was a kid my favourite team was the Toronto Maple Leafs.

PP: In a few short sentences describe yourself as a player.

PK: I see myself as a two-way defenceman, someone that you can rely on and will get the job done.  I need to work on my lateral skating a little, but I feel I have good vision and a very good hockey sense.  My first pass and defensive game is very good.

PP: Who do you compare yourself to and why?

PK: I like to compare myself to Kevin Bieksa, because he is a solid two-way defenseman that is very reliable.  Also he lives in Smithville, where I live.  He went to the same high school as I did, played for the Burlington Cougars and played college hockey.

PP: Did you consider going to the CHL?

PK: I had thoughts about where I wanted to play, whether it was college or CHL, but for me it was a no brainer to play NCAA.

PP: Why did you choose RPI?

PK: I chose RPI because it was close to home, great coaches, great, program, one of the top engineering schools in North America, there were spots for me to play, and when I went to visit, there was just an X-factor that I loved.

PP: It isn’t every day that you get to play against your brother in the NCAA.  How did it feel when you looked at the schedule and saw RPI was playing Bentley?  What was it like actually playing against your brother in what ended up being a 3-0 win for RPI?

PK: Dan is my cousin and when I saw that we were playing Bentley I was really excited.  Dan and I had trained together all summer so it was great that we had helped each other to get better than we were able to play against each other.  It was great.  I was just happy that we were able to win that game because it helped us get into the NCAA tournament.

PP: Do you pay attention at all to the mock drafts and where you might be picked in the draft?  Why or why not?

PK: Yes, I have looked at some mock drafts, but I try not to get all consumed with it.  It is obviously exciting to see where people think you fit in, but in the end, nothing matters until draft day.  Then after that, anything goes.

PP: What do you need to do to take your game to the next level?

PK: I need to work on my lateral skating and just continue to improve my game.  It’s small things now.

PP:  What will you be doing in your free time this summer?

PK: Just enjoy the family and enjoy the cottage a little.  It’s hard because I am training a lot but it’s nice to be with the family.

PP:  If you get picked, will you be reporting for rookie camp?

PK: I hope I get picked and if I do, I will be going to camp, but I have every intention of going back to school.

PP: What are your thoughts going into next season with RPI if you don’t make it to the NHL?

PK: Well I don’t feel that I am ready to make the step to the NHL yet so I am looking forward to next year with RPI.  We have a great team and will have another great season.

PP: What does RPI have to do to get back into contention for the Frozen Four?

PK: We need to have another good season and carry over our confidence from this year.

PP: Who are some of the players you have played with/against who you think will do very well in the NHL?

PK: Two guys I played with before RPI and played against this year are Josh Jooris and Greg Carey.  They are both highly skilled players that I feel have NHL potential.  Jooris has NHL vision and great passes, and Carey has an NHL shot and hands.  Also our goalie this year, Allen York, I feel has a great shot to make it into the NHL.

PP: What are the benefits of playing NCAA hockey?

PK: The NCAA gives a person more time to develop as a player to make the NHL.  It also gives someone the ability to get their education while they are playing hockey.  That is one reason why I chose the NCAA.

PP: What is the moment you remember most of your career so far?

PK: Making it to the NCAA tournament was a great memory this year, but the Bentley game against Dan was something I really remember.

PP: What was the biggest change moving from the CCHL to NCAA?

PK: Bigger, faster, and stronger are the difference between every level.

PP:  Besides hockey, what are some of your other hobbies?

PK: I love being outside, whether it is fishing, camping, skiing, golf, or just being outside.
PP: How close do you think you are to the NHL?

PK: It’s hard to say.  I have never been to an NHL camp so I don’t have a comparison, but I feel that I am two to four years away from stepping into the NHL

     Let me first apologize about the brother/cousin confusion between Pat and Dan.  I hear they get that all the time so let’s not dwell on the mistake.  Anywho, Koudys possesses an excellent array of skills for a great two-way defenseman.  Separating players from the puck doesn’t take to much effort on his part and his tall figure provides and extra long reach for effective poke checking (that’s what she sai…oh never mind).  His strong build allowed him to bench 150 pounds, 12 times at the combine, good for 2nd best among prospects.  Stats don’t mean everything either, and while he may have only put up 3 points in his 31 games at RPI this season, he showed flashes of offensive potential even as a freshman.  Capable of controlling the play from the point, Koudys has got some scouts and GM’s talking about him.  Bieksa would make a pretty good comparison, but Koudys excels in discipline, an area where the current Canucks defenseman lacks.  One of the very few critiques may be his skating.  Although he has a good enough top speed going down the ice, his side-to-side movement needs a little tweaking.
     Koudys has all the makings of being a very good defenseman in the NHL.  He may not be as highly regarded as Dougie Hamilton or Duncan Siemens, but his smarts and hockey sense outweigh his lack of production.  And who are we kidding?  Freshman don’t usually get the greatest of opportunities their first year of the NCAA.  Pat Koudys might just be the biggest steal in the draft this year.  Only time will tell, but he may just fall far enough that any NHL team will pick him and make out like bandits.  


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