BREAKING THE ICE WITH CONWAY AND OLDAKER
By Jared Tennant
Declan Conway and Brett Oldaker are two of the top forwards on the Ice Breakers roster. Conway, 23, is a graduate of Lake Catholic High School. He played with several local junior programs, including Team Ohio and the Cleveland Lumberjacks, before spending time in the GOJHL and the NOJHL. Conway spent two seasons playing at John Carroll University (ACHA), where he scored 23 goals and dished out 16 assists for 39 points over 33 appearances. This season, Conway has an 8-8-16 scoring line over 28 games with the Ice Breakers.
Oldaker was one of the first players to sign with the Ice Breakers back in mid-September. The Canonsburg, Pennsylvania native played two years of junior hockey in the NAHL and EJHL following his senior year at Canon-McMillan High School. After playing at Franklin Pierce University (NCAA Division III) for two years, Oldaker finished out his collegiate career at the University of Pittsburgh (ACHA), where he logged a 22-36-58 scoring line over 52 career games. Oldaker has been around the Ice Breakers since the very beginning and has 10 goals and 14 assists for a total of 24 points over 39 games.
Q: How did you end up with the Ice Breakers this season?
Declan Conway: Well, I started off my pro career down in Huntsville, Alabama where I played an exhibition game with the Huntsville Havoc (SPHL). Fortunately, my hometown was getting a new pro team so it kind of worked out perfectly for the situation I was in.
Brett Oldaker: After participating in a camp over the summer for the Evansville Thunderbolts (SPHL), I was referred to Coach Duncan by the Thunderbolts' general manager. I was quick to jump on the opportunity to play in Mentor when he gave me a call.
Q: Declan, what's it like playing for your hometown pro team?
DC: It's definitely a funny feeling playing in your hometown rink on a pro hockey team where there's never been a higher level of hockey than AAA or high school.
Q: Brett, you were one of the first players signed by the team over the summer. What's it been like to watch the organization grow from the ground up?
BO: It's incredible how far this organization has come since July. Over the past several months, I think we've all been through a lot of ups and downs, but it's been rewarding watching this team grow into what it is now. I feel very lucky to be along for the ride.
Q: Do you have a favorite junior team that you've played for?
DC: My favorite junior team was by far the Chatham Maroons (GOJHL) in Chatham, Ontario. The organization was so well put together there was an awesome culture, plus the fans were very into it.
BO: Playing for the Chicago Hitmen in the NAHL was a fun experience being that it was my first time playing junior hockey and living away from home.
Q: Declan, how did your time playing at John Carroll University prepare you for life as a pro hockey player?
DC: To be honest, my time there didn't prepare me for pro hockey whatsoever. No one really wanted to push their limits to the next level, everyone was comfortable with where they were at. Personally, I was not.
Q: Brett, how did playing at the University of Pittsburgh prepare you to become a pro hockey player?
BO: I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play hockey and study at a reputable university such as Pitt. Having to be accountable both in the classroom and on the ice taught me a lot about how to be a professional.
Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?
DC: I would have to say I'm a hardworking individual who never feels comfortable with the level I'm currently at. I'm always trying to get better each day. I'm extremely passionate with what I do, especially hockey.
BO: Speed is my greatest asset, so I try to play a fast-paced north-south game in order to create opportunities for myself and my teammates.
Q: Brett, this is your first time living in or around the city of Mentor. How do like living and playing hockey here?
BO: It's a great place to be. There's lots to do around town and it's awesome being part of a community that has a passion for hockey. Though it is a bit tough being surrounded by so many Browns fans as a Pittsburgh native.
Q: What's your game day routine like?
DC: I usually drink a ton of water and have pasta maybe four hours before game time. Also, maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich like two hours before the game. I don't have any superstitions, I just try to clear my head as best as I can and work hard.
BO: I try not to over-complicate things. Morning skate, pregame meal, maybe a nap. I just try to stay loose.
Q: Who's your favorite NHL player?
DC: My favorite player to watch is Nathan MacKinnon on the Colorado Avalanche. I also really like Elias Pettersson on the Vancouver Canucks.
BO: Can I pick two? Sidney Crosby and Matt Barzal.
Q: What are your hobbies outside of hockey?
DC: Hanging out with friends and usually playing video games if my friends are on. I used to draw a lot too.
BO: I'm very passionate about health and fitness, so I spend a lot of time in the gym. I've also been trying my hand at meditation as of late. Other than that, I enjoy reading and writing.
Q: Favorite food?
DC: If we're not talking about being healthy, then I really enjoy eating toaster strudels.
BO: Might not be a crowd favorite, but it's definitely oatmeal.
Q: Favorite movie?
DC: Surf's Up or The Matrix.
BO: Black Mass.
Q: What type of music do you listen to?
DC: I really like listening to hip-hop music and rap music, but I'm pretty open-minded.
BO: My favorite is metal/rock, but country is a close second.
Q: What's a random fact about you?
DC: I have two brothers and a sister who all played goalie growing up. Also, one of my brothers is my twin.
BO: I always wear my socks inside-out because I think the toe seam is uncomfortable.
Q: Favorite hockey memory?
DC: When I scored in Chatham during a regular season game, I shot from the right side of the blue line and went bar down. Seeing the crowd jump up and cheer really stuck in my brain.
BO: Winning the Western Pennsylvania high school hockey championships during my junior year.