BREAKING THE ICE WITH KADOLPH AND SWENSON

By Jared Tennant

PHOTOS: Dee Hannum

Forward Matt Kadolph and defenseman Joe Swenson are former college teammates playing their first seasons of pro hockey with the Ice Breakers. Kadolph, 27, hails from Ottawa, Ontario. He played three years of junior hockey in the EOJHL with the Stittsville Royals, piling up 64 goals and 73 assists for a total of 137 points over 152 appearances. In 2013, he began his collegiate hockey career at Rochester College (Minnesota). Over four years, Kadolph accumulated 138 points (58-80-138) and led the team in scoring in each of his final two seasons. He played in his first three professional games last season with the Northern Federals before returning to the FHL in December 2018 with the Ice Breakers. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound center has a 12-10-22 scoring line over 30 games with Mentor and has shown a willingness to drop the gloves with 70 penalty minutes on the campaign.

Swenson, also 27, is a Minnetonka, Minnesota product and did not play junior hockey prior to attending Rochester College the year following Kadolph's freshman season. He showed steady improvement over his four-year career, culminating in a 20-point (11-9-20) showing as a senior during the 2017-18 season. Like Kadolph, Swenson got his first taste of pro hockey over a three-game stint with the Northern Federals last year. Swenson made the Elmira Enforcers' roster out of training camp before being traded to the Ice Breakers four games into the season. Over 41 games with Mentor, he has netted four goals and dished out 11 assists.

Q: How did you end up with the Ice Breakers this year?

Matt Kadolph: After being released from Elmira, I went back to Michigan to continue working as a hockey trainer. I originally had no intent on coming to Mentor and was actually probably going to hang 'em up if not for Joe Swenson being traded here. Joe and I keep in touch quite a bit and he said it would be a great opportunity for me. I signed about a week before Christmas and I'm really happy that I came here to continue my career.

Joe Swenson: I first signed with Elmira at the beginning of the year, going through training camp and playing in four games. What brought me here was getting traded. I couldn't have asked for a better place to be than Mentor.

Q: How did your time playing at Rochester College prepare you for life as a pro hockey player? How cool is it getting to play with a former college teammate?

MK: Playing with a former college teammate (as well as against one when we play George Holt on Watertown) has been a blast so far. Joe and I have both been a big part of each other's development. We share an apartment together, so that has definitely made it easier to transition as well. Going to college was my first time living away from home, so that definitely was tough at first, but you learn so much about yourself when you're in uncomfortable situations. Minus the fighting, playing at Rochester in the ACHA against top teams fairly regularly has helped me prepare for the toughness that is required in the FHL.

JS: Playing college hockey was a time for me to learn, grow, and create friendships that I will have forever. That brings me to Matt. Honestly, playing with each other was what we wanted from the start of the year while training together before camp. Matt has been one of my best friends throughout school and I couldn't think of anyone else I would want to play my first year of pro hockey with.

Q: Matt, what's allowed you to have so much success offensively on the season?

MK: Luck. Pure luck. Haha, honestly I've always been the same kind of player throughout my career. I like to keep it simple by going hard to the net, playing good defense, and playing within a system to produce scoring opportunities. It helps when you have good teammates who play an unselfish style, which is what we have in Mentor. I believe Coach Duncan has put me in situations to succeed, so that has also been a huge part of my success so far.

Q: What's it been like to see the growth of the team over the course of the season?

MK: Since I've been here, I've seen a team that is capable of doing some pretty special things, but simply hasn't found a way to put together a full 60 minutes. Lately, we've found that groove and hopefully we can continue putting complete hockey games together to push for a playoff spot.

JS: I feel like the growth has always been moving up. We get better and better each game, having to battle some weekends with a lighter bench. Recently, we've found a groove to put some pucks in the net and play a full, 200-foot game,

Q: What's your favorite stop of your hockey career so far?

MK: I think Mentor has been my favorite stop. The guys have been great, I've learned a lot from Coach Duncan, and for the first time in my career I am playing a role that I think is perfect for my style of play.

JS: Being able to play college hockey was the favorite stop in my hockey career. I grew up watching college hockey more than the NHL. It was something special to me to be able to play for my school.

Q: How do you like living and playing hockey in Mentor?

MK: It's awesome. There's a lot to do in the area if you want to go out and grab a drink or a bite to eat. We all live in the same apartment building, which I think is amazing because we are always just an elevator ride away. Makes it real easy to organize chel (NHL) tourneys.

JS: Living in Mentor has been awesome! I already had a few friends who live around the area, which made it really welcoming.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?

MK: I would say I'm a power forward. Not the fastest, not the most skilled, but I'll get the job done. I take pride in playing good defense and I generally play in front of the net in the offensive zone.

JS: I would describe myself as a physical player. My physicality is my biggest asset.

Q: What's your game day routine like?

MK: Fairly simple. Having a nap is essential, but other than that as long as I get some decent food in me and stay hydrated I'm good to go.

JS: Game day routine usually starts with a pregame skate if we have one, and after our skate I'll usually make a heavy meal before my nap. After that I'll make some food and head out the door for the rink.

Q: Who's your favorite NHL player?

MK: Right now my favorite player is Mark Stone. My favorite of all time is Marian Hossa.

JS: When I was little, Joe Sakic was my favorite hockey player. In today's game, TJ Oshie would have to be my favorite.

Q: What are your hobbies?

MK: I like to game, golf, and watch Netflix with my wife.

JS: Love to golf anytime I can. Softball is huge for my summers. Also, a little bit of video games and Netflix here and there.

Q: Favorite food?

MK: Anything my wife makes.

JS: Steak and potatoes.

Q: Favorite movie?

MK: The Rock.

JS: Christmas Vacation.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? 

MK: Mainly hip-hop, but I listen to a lot of genres including rock and EDM. Who doesn't like a good mix?

JS: I like almost any music besides country.

Q: What's a random fact about you?

MK: I fought Zdeno Chara during the Ottawa Senators skills competition when I was 11.

JS: I went to the junior olympics for freestyle skiing.

Q: Favorite hockey memory?

MK: I have so many, but my favorite would have to be winning the CCHL championship.

JS: Getting to travel to hockey tournaments when I was younger, then playing knee hockey in the hotel hallways and getting yelled at.