Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Minnesota Forward Kyle Okposo

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, December 4 at 1:00 p.m. ET, Minnesota forward Kyle Okposo enters the chatroom at "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. The Golden Gophers face North Dakota in Grand Forks on December 7-8.

Kyle Okposo

Kyle Okposo made an immediate impact as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, and entered the 2007-08 season as the Golden Gophers' No. 2 returning scorer.

Okposo recorded 40 points in 40 games as a freshman in 2006-07, scoring 19 goals and handing out 21 assists. Those numbers helped him earn second team All-WCHA and WCHA All-Rookie honors, along with the Gophers' Frank Pond Rookie of the Year award. He also missed three games to play with Team USA at the 2007 World Junior Championship in Sweden, where he helped the U.S. to a bronze medal.

Okposo was a first-round draft pick (seventh overall) of the New York Islanders in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He is undecided on his major at Minnesota.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Kyle won't be stopping by until 1:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, December 4, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Good afternoon, and welcome to another "Tuesday @ the Rink," presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. We have two great chats today going into big series in the WCHA, so let's get started. We're joined now by Minnesota forward Kyle Okposo.
Kyle Okposo: Hi. It's nice to be here.

Ryan (Grand Forks): Will the Gophers last trip to The Ralph (loss to Holy Cross) play any role in mentally preparing for this weekend's series with the Sioux? I know you weren't on the team yet, but some of your teammates were. I can't wait for the games this weekend, it will surely be a battle.
Kyle Okposo: I don't think the loss to Holy Cross is going to be in our minds at all because we're playing North Dakota and not the Crusaders. I'm sure that the games this weekend are going to be rough and tough and we're all looking forward to them.

PCM (grand Forks): How are you guys going to match up against the #1 line in the nation of oshie and duncan and vandevelde? Plus, where is that after game party and are you guys going to be at the red pepper?
Kyle Okposo: Our goalies are going to have to be good, for one. We're just going to have to play good team defense. I don't think there's going to be any specific line that's going to match up with them. We're just going to have to be aware when they're on the ice. The after-game party will probably be outside the Holiday Inn as we're making snow angels.

Tony (Plymouth): What do you think the biggest factor has been with the Gopher's struggles early in the season so far? Best of luck this weekend, go get em!
Kyle Okposo: It's just been a lack of chemistry. We're still trying to find the right line combinations and D-pairings for our team. We're still a little inexperienced, which doesn't help early in the season. Hopefully we can have a good weekend heading into the break to get some chemistry going.

Rob: With Mike C. returning after the holiday break do you expect to be moved to more of a power foward position and be centered by Mike? I think Mike and yourself could be a deadly combination in the second half of the season.
Kyle Okposo: That's definitely a possibility. I don't think it would be a bad thing moving to the wall so I can play more of that power forward game. I guess we'll just have to wait and see when we get back from break.

Ryan (Hastings): Which college arena (aside from Mariucci) is your favorite arena to play at? What about your favorite overall?
Kyle Okposo: St. Cloud is the best I played at last year. The atmosphere was incredible, and you could barely hear yourself think. I've been to the Ralph to watch a game when I was in high school and that arena was pretty amazing. The marble and leather seats seemed a little bit over the top at that point, but it was pretty cool. There's nothing like playing at Mariucci, though.

kk (Grand Rapids): With the Gophers in recent seasons typically starting very strong and then seemingly unable to maintain momentum come playoff time in some of these years, while other teams have peaked late and faired better, has the coaching staff made in changes in the way they approach coaching this season to focus more on getting momentum at the end of the season?
Kyle Okposo: I don't think they've changed their style, necessarily, but right from the get-go we have emphasized that we want to play our best hockey at the end of February and going into March. Last year we went on that huge winning streak early in the year and seemed to fade in the second half of the year and we're going to try to reverse that trend a little this year.

Tony (Plymouth): Was there a single factor you can point to that helped you decide to come back and play another season at Minnesota instead of moving on to the NHL?
Kyle Okposo: I kind of realized I'm only going to be a kid once. I didn't want those days to end at such an early age. I just turned 19 years old. I had one of the most fun years of my life last year and if I went back to school, I wasn't expecting it to be any different.

Dave (Minnetonka): Kyle, is it hard not to think about the World Junior announcement today and just go through getting ready for North Dakota?
Kyle Okposo: No, I'm not really concerning myself with the World Junior announcement. If I get selected, that would be great, but right now I'm a member of the University of Minnesota hockey team and we're preparing for North Dakota.

John (Burnsville): Kyle, since you are playing North Dakota, not Holy Cross, what role do the Final Five and West Regional last year play in the team's attitude and focus as you prepare for this series?
Kyle Okposo: Not much at all. We're focusing on this year and not what happened in the past. We know they're going to be a strong and physical team who's going to come out hard at us and we're going to have to respond well and battle with them for 60 minutes a night.

Matt (Boston, MA): Hey obviously you guys are having a solid season as always with tough opponents out west, but I was curious as to what you though about the teams in the east, Hockey East in particular, and what do you think about the jumbled Hockey East and do you see any strong teams coming out and challenging the western powerhouses?
Kyle Okposo: We've only played one team from the East, which was RPI and they looked pretty good. We watched a little bit of the Boston College-Michigan game and BC looked good as well. I have a few buddies who play out there on the teams in Hockey East and they're telling me that the league is good and they've got some good teams, so we'll see at the end of the year. It's tough to make any predictions when I haven't seen many of the teams firsthand.

Luke (Burnsville): Kyle, how long did it take the team to get used to the idea that Ryan Stoa isn't going to be able to play this season, and how much of an effect do you think that's had on the line combination issues you mentioned?
Kyle Okposo: It took a while for our team to get over that injury with Stoa just being named an alternate captain, it was a big blow to our team. The line combinations would be much more set in stone, I believe, if he was still around, because it seemed like in the first couple of games we had good chemistry. That's all part of being a team, however. You've got to deal with adversity and be able to battle through that.

Bill (Mankato): Who is the best team you have seen so far this year?
Kyle Okposo: Michigan. Hands down. The second time we played them they were just fast and played hard. It reminded me a lot of our team at the beginning of the year last year. We've still got a lot of season to go, though, so a lot could change.
CSTV.com Moderator: That's all the time we have with Kyle this afternoon.
Kyle Okposo: Thanks for everybody who submitted. Hopefully I answered your questions. We're looking forward to the series this weekend in North Dakota. It should be a lot of fun.
CSTV.com Moderator: That'll do it for the first of our CSTV.com "Tuesday @ the Rink" chats, presented by CSTV and USCHO. Come back at the top of the hour for more WCHA talk with St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko.