This season the Miami Brotherhood welcomes 13 new faces to the program, including 11 freshmen. With so many new players on the roster, the "In the Crease" semimonthly interview series aims to introduce the newcomers to the fans. The first installment of the series is with freshman Riley Barber.
Barber, a Livonia, Mich. native, has had a hot start to his RedHawk career, tallying five points in four games, including three goals while adding two helpers. Last Saturday, Barber led Miami with three points on the night, the first multi-point game of his young career, including the primary assist on Austin Czarnik's game-winning goal in overtime. He was then named CCHA Rookie of the Week for his efforts.
Barber was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, 167th overall (16th in the sixth round), by the Washington Capitals. Barber also helped Team USA to a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF U-18 World Championship in the Czech Republic.
Interview by Chris Rydburg (CR)
CR: You are certainly on a hot start to this season.
RB: We had a great preseason here with (strength coach) Matt Cady and we worked out real hard this summer so I think that carried over into our season. Playing on a line with "Z" (Austin Czarnik) doesn't hurt, that's for sure. We had some chemistry right off the bat so it's really exciting to be where we are at this point.
CR: You were drafted by the Washington Capitals. How did it feel when your name got called?
RB: Obviously it was a great experience for me. My dad always told me it's not about the draft, it's all about what you do after. Obviously that doesn't take away anything from the experience and I was really happy to get drafted but I've pretty much put all my focus into this year.
CR: So have you visited Washington a lot? Do you like it there?
RB: Yeah. I went to camp there, their rookie development and a lot of the coaches were great and they have a great facility so it should be fun.
CR: Obviously there is a lot of volatility in Washington right now. Would you ever consider running for a public office?
RB: (laughing) No, no, no. Not at all. I think it will be really cool, obviously there's a lot of history there. It would be cool if I could one day live there and play for the Capitals.
CR: What was it like starting on the top line in your first game of your freshman year?
RB: You know it was awesome. This is why I picked this place. We have great coaches here. To be honest, we have a great everything. I am really happy to be here. The fact they gave me this opportunity, you know I don't want to let them down and I don't want to do anything to get off that first line so I am going to do everything I can to help my team and stay where I'm at.
CR: You're a Michigan native and you're going up there this weekend for a match up with Michigan. Are you excited to go back to the home state or are you a bit nervous?
RB: Oh no I am real excited. My parents will be there. A lot of my buddies, a couple of them go to Michigan. It will be awesome to play in front of them. I know a lot of guys that are on the Michigan team also. Their goaltender is a good buddy of mine back from Team USA. It will be really cool to play against him. Hopefully I can show him some of my practice moves out there. It should be awesome.
CR: Speaking of Team USA, you helped Team USA to a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF U-18 World Championship in the Czech Republic. Obviously it's tight competition whenever you are in a championship game. Talk a little bit about that experience.
RB: It was always an awesome feeling putting on that jersey and playing for your country and then to win it playing against Canada and Sweden, those are big countries that have great players. For us to go in and win it with a great group of guys was a ton of fun. We played great during that stretch, probably the best we played all year, we put it together at the right time and had a lot of fun. It's always great to win something for your country.
CR: Have you ever given senior Curtis McKenzie any flak about beating Canada?
RB: Actually my dad is Canadian too so my family is a little split. My dad's side of the family actually was rooting for Canada and my dad isn't one to shy away from rooting for Canada when I am not playing for USA. Curt actually lives in B.C. (British Columbia) and so did my dad so they were talking over parents weekend about how Canada was better and joking around sometimes. It's all fun and games.
CR: If you could choose two linemates in any time period in NHL or NCAA history, who would they be?
RB: (Laughing) I don't want to sound too coy, but how about "Z?" But seriously I mean, probably Wayne Gretzky as my center man.
CR: That's a pretty solid pick.
RB: It's certainly not a bad one. If I had to pick a left winger, probably that guy in Pittsburgh. What's his name? James Neal. Yeah Neal, Gretzky, and me that would be fun.
CR: How many points do you think you would put up with those guys?
RB: (laughing) Oh man. I would just give them the puck and hopefully they would do something with it. I'd probably get a lot.
CR: That would be awesome. Changing gears, how has your year been going at Miami? Obviously there was a lot excitement here over the weekend with two overtime games.
RB: Yeah, I mean it was great. I was excited last year when I made my decision. I am really happy where I am at. People are great here and they even hold the door open for you. It's little things like that really goes a long way. Everyone is so nice here. The professors and all kids on campus seem to have a deep, deep fire for hockey so that is awesome.
CR: So last and most important question. You're the second Riley to be on Miami's top line in as many years (last year was Reilly Smith). The obvious question is: is Czarnik who's good luck for Rileys, or Rileys who are good luck for Czarnik?
RB: (laughing) I think it is Rileys who are good luck for Czarnik.Fans can engage in the series as well by submitting questions for any of the newcomers to Chris Rydburg at email@example.com. He will then work them into his interview with that player in an installment of In the Crease.