Defenseman Johann Kroll collected 27 points in four years at Ohio State University.
JS: Well, how are you liking things here in the Lowcountry so far?
JK: I’m loving it; it’s beautiful. You have 85-degree days in mid-October. I’ve been out to the beach a couple of times, hanging out by the pool every day after practice, and we’re going golfing tomorrow. I’m really enjoying the different climate.
JS: You had the chance to participate in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Prospect Camp before joining the Grand Rapids Griffins for training camp. How were those experiences?
JK: It was really fun, playing with some players that are going to be in the NHL this year. It was a good experience for me. Grand Rapids was awesome as well. It really got me in shape, and my conditioning level up to where it needs to be for the season. I’m really happy I got to do those things.
JS: You played alongside 2007-08 Stingrays d-man Sean Collins for three years at Ohio State. Did he influence your decision to sign with South Carolina?
JK: He did. He gave me a call towards the end of summer, when I was kind of narrowing down the places that I’d like to play at. He said nothing but good things about the organization, Coach Bednar and the guys down here. He highly recommended it, and he did play a role in me coming down here.
JS: How do you plan to adjust to the schedule, going from what is typically a 35-40-game season in college to a 70-plus game slate in the ECHL?
JK: The biggest thing is mentally. In college, you can just prepare and get your body ready for the week and playing those two games. Now, sometimes you have four or five games in a week. You’ve got to stay mentally sharp, that’s what I’ve heard. I’m up for the challenge, though. I don’t think it’ll be too big of an adjustment for me.
JS: For fans/readers that aren’t familiar with you, how would you describe your playing style?
JK: I’d like to think I’m really good defensively. I don’t think I get beat too often; I can take care of my own end of the rink. I feel I have some offensive upside as well. I think I can make some plays, and help out on the offensive side as well.
JS: Your Buckeyes profile noted that Shane Churla (a former NHL enforcer) was the first hockey player you admired. Does that mean you wouldn’t hesitate to drop the gloves?
JK: I wouldn’t be afraid, but luckily we have the big guy, Nate Kiser, to take care of most of that for us. Growing up he (Churla) was my uncle’s favorite player, and he really got me into that edge of the game. I like to think that I play with an edge a little bit.
JS: You come from the hockey hotbed of Minnesota, which has a number of college hockey programs. How did you end up at Ohio State University?
JK: You know, I could’ve gone to places around there (in Minnesota). But I kind of wanted to get away from home a little bit. There’s nothing wrong with home or anything, but I wanted to meet some new people and live a different life away from Minnesota. I just kind of feel life’s too short to be sticking around the same state forever. I just loved the facilities, the coaches, the campus and what the school had to offer. It was a pretty easy choice for me once I went out there.
JS: Did you set any goals for yourself heading into this season?
JK: I just tried this summer to have the best year I can. Obviously, I want to move up to the next level, so I’m going to do everything I can to do that. The big thing is put one foot at a time. I’m going to do everything I can to help this team to, hopefully, a Kelly Cup. I didn’t really set any specific individual goals besides competing and doing the best I can every night.
JS: Talk about your time with the Rochester Americans last spring, following the conclusion of your senior year.
JK: That was really fun. I went up there after our season ended, and it gave me a taste of the professional game. By the end of my stay there I was confident I could play at that next level. It was the first time I played three games in three nights…it was nice to get used to the professional schedule.
JS: You had the chance to play at Lambeau Field (home of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers) in a game against the University of Wisconsin. What was that like?
JK: That was unbelievable. It was my sophomore year, and they put a rink right in the middle of Lambeau Field. There was forty-some thousand people there. We lost a close game; we gave up an empty-net [goal] and some bad bounces. But it was awesome playing in front of that many people, especially with the football rivalry, as big as it is, with the Big Ten. That was definitely really cool to be a part of.
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