Incoming Interview: Graeme Strukoff

Graeme Strukoff (dark) shoots on his old teammates, having spent more than two seasons playing for Trail.

Graeme Strukoff is a 6’0″, 193lb defenseman from Chilliwack, BC. He comes to Huntsville after three seasons in the British Columbia Hockey League. Strukoff played two full seasons with the Trail Smoke Eaters and started his third with Trail before being traded to the Victoria Grizzlies, a team in playoff contention that had a critical shortage of top-end defensemen. In 46 games as a Grizzly, Graeme scored 7-17–24 to help lead the team to the playoffs. He will wear #2 for the Chargers in 2011-12.

As with our other interviews, my questions will be in bold-face type.

When did you first start playing hockey? Who in your family played and was involved in you taking up the game? Have you always played your position, or have you played elsewhere on the ice? What was your favorite team and player growing up?

I first started playing hockey when I was five years old. Both my parents supported me throughout hockey, and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I started out as a forward but my coach in Peewee decided to put me on defence and I loved it. My favourite team was always the Winnipeg Jets, and I was ecstatic to hear that they will be back in the NHL next season. I do feel sorry for the fans in Atlanta who had to see their team go—with the amount of hockey fans in the South, it’s definitely too bad that there’s no more NHL hockey there. Growing up, I idolized Pavel Bure, and I even have his jersey hanging up in my dorm.

Why do you want to play college hockey as your junior career came to an end? What schools recruited you other than UAH? Why did you choose UAH?

It was a very difficult decision for me to leave junior hockey a year early and start my college career. I had a couple options, but UAH was the best option for me to get a higher education as well as compete at the Division 1 level. I chose to go the college route because I feel I am a late bloomer. Getting four extra years to develop will only help me in my path to play pro hockey.

Strukoff (white) muscles the puck up the boards.

What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses on the ice? What is your favorite game situation?

My strengths, in my opinion, are my passing and physical play. I always expect myself to make a good first pass out of the defensive zone so the forwards are able to safely make plays. I am a very physical player: I love battling in the corners and in front of the net, and I like to be one of the players that other teams hate playing against.

My weaknesses would have to be consistency throughout the season, and never being much of a scorer, even though I like to jump in the rush. My favourite game situation is the last minute of a game when we are either trying to score a goal or keep one out of our net. I would much rather be out there making a difference in the game rather than watch someone else do it.

When you’re not playing hockey, what are your favorite sports? If we come across you away from the rink, what are you going to be doing?

My favourite sports are lacrosse and golf. I played lacrosse until my senior year of high school, when I decided to focus on hockey. Away from the rink you will probably find me at the golf course, at the lake wakeboarding, or just hanging out at the beach.

What do you want out of your UAH experience? What do you expect to learn here to make you a more well-rounded person?

During my time at UAH, I expect to earn my degree on time, while learning time- and money-management skills to help me later in life. Being able to play D1 hockey and get a great education is something I am very grateful for and don’t take for granted.