In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak with hockey player Nick Craven from the Class of 2013. Craven signed an amateur try-out contract with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League in March. He played in each of the Senators’ games March 8-10 as they defeated the Conn. Whale, 3-0; knocked off the Rochester Americans, 4-3; and beat the Hershey Bears, 3-2.
Q: How old were you when you first developed an interest in playing ice hockey? How would you describe the opportunity you had to fulfill your ice hockey desires growing up in Ft. Collins, Colo.?
A: I first started playing hockey when I was 6 years old. That was the same year the state of Colorado got an NHL team. This allowed the sport to become much more popular across the state. I was immediately obsessed with hockey. As I grew older, my interest level only increased. Fort Collins had a decent youth hockey program, but by the time I reached the Bantam level, I had to travel to Denver in order to play for the top teams in the state. The older I got, the amount of traveling in order to pursue my hockey dreams continued to increase. In high school, the AAA team I played for traveled to tournaments across the United States as well as in Canada. As a consequence, I ended up missing nearly twenty days of school a year. At this point in my career, I decided to transfer to Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. This decision allowed me to pursue both my athletic and academic desires.
Q: How did you become interested in attending Wesleyan and playing ice hockey for Head Coach Chris Potter?
A: Playing college hockey had always been a goal of mine. During my senior year in high school I did not have a specific college I wanted to attend. I spoke with a handful of Division III and a few Division I schools. I connected with Coach Potter in the fall of that year. He saw me as a player with a lot of potential. I noticed that the team was not very good; however, I saw that as a positive thing. Not only could I receive some playing time as a freshman, I believed I could help the program improve. Following my talks with Coach Potter, I had such a good feeling that I applied Early Decision II to Wesleyan.
Q: What was it like for you to be a member of the Wesleyan men’s ice hockey team for four years?
A: Playing hockey for Wesleyan over the past four years was a great experience. Not only did my game improve tremendously, the team got better every year. Most importantly, I made a ton of great lifelong friends.
Q: What would you say was the part of playing ice hockey at Wesleyan that was most memorable? A particular game or accomplishment during a game, perhaps?
A: My sophomore season playing for Wesleyan was pretty memorable on the whole. The previous season, the team only won seven games. That next year, we managed to sneak into the playoffs as the eighth seed and upset top-seeded Hamilton College in the first round. This was, in fact, the first ever playoff victory for the Wesleyan program. That same year, we beat Middlebury in overtime up at their place for the first time ever. On the whole, my sophomore season was special.
Q: When did you first get the notion that playing professional hockey might be a possibility and what did you or your coach do to foster the opportunity?
A: As a kid, I had always dreamed of playing in the NHL. That dream sort of diminished in high school when I did not receive the Division I college offers I was hoping for. However, my love for hockey was renewed here at Wesleyan. I made drastic improvements in my game throughout my four years here. It was probably sometime during my sophomore season when I thought I could make playing professionally a reality.
Q: How would you compare playing in the AHL for the Binghamton Senators to NESCAC ice hockey? What was it like being a professional ice hockey player?
A: It was definitely a pretty big jump going from the NESCAC to the AHL. The players definitely have more speed and skill. Probably the biggest challenge for me was adjusting to the new systems and teammates. Being a professional hockey player for the last three weeks was an unbelievable experience. It was a great opportunity to get a taste of the professional hockey lifestyle and it will definitely benefit me in the years to come.
Q: In addition to ice hockey, what activities have drawn your attention at Wesleyan? What are your hobbies and interests outside of sports?
A: I am an active member in DKE, but the majority of my attention has been focused on hockey.
Q: What is your Wesleyan major and what courses at Wesleyan have you most enjoyed?
A: I am a neuroscience and behavior major here at Wesleyan. Some of my favorite courses have been behavioral neurobiology, animal behavior, neurobiology of disease and planetary geology.
Q: What do you think the future holds for you, both as an ice hockey player and a soon-to-be Wesleyan graduate?
A: As of now, I plan to pursue my career as a professional hockey player. I absolutely love the sport and I want to continue to see how far it can take me. I am not quite sure what I want to do after my hockey career. I would love to be involved with the sport once my playing days are over. At the end of the day, I will have a degree from an excellent university to fall back on.