Every week leading up to October 13, the “Rookie Round-Up” will give ECHL fans the chance to get to know a Rookie player that has signed with an ECHL team for the 2017-18 Season. For this week’s piece, the ECHL spoke with Connor Schmidt of the Tulsa Oilers- get to know him in this Q&A!
Name: Connor Schmidt
Hometown: Monroe, Michigan
ECHL Team: Tulsa Oilers
2016-17 Organization: Utica College
ECHL: What made you decide to sign with Tulsa for the 2017-18 Season?
Connor Schmidt: To be honest, it was a very easy decision. My coach at Utica, Gary Heenan, spoke very highly of Coach Murray and the Tulsa organization. I was actually in the process of finalizing a contract with a team over in Europe when I received a call from Coach Murray. During our conversation, I felt an immediate connection. We talked about more than just hockey and it just felt right. It was too great of an opportunity to pass up.
ECHL: What should Tulsa fans know about you – on or off the ice?
CS: I plan on being really active in the Tulsa community this year. I feel like with everything going on in the world right now - I believe that we should give back in any way shape or form. Having this platform of being an ECHL player is the perfect start to do that.
ECHL: So how would you describe your game on the ice?
CS: I consider myself a two-way defenseman that likes to contribute on both ends of the ice. I have a very high hockey IQ and I feel like that's a big reason why I'm in the position I'm in today with hockey. My game is filled with energy and competitiveness - I play with a lot of heart and a chip on my shoulder.
ECHL: What are you most looking forward to in your professional rookie season?
CS: I'm looking forward to meeting all the guys on the team and making a name for myself. I feel like no matter what league, but especially in this league, as a rookie, the professional lifestyle is going to be brand new and really different. So I believe it's important to learn from the older guys and pay attention to detail on a daily basis. So I'm just really excited to grow not only on the ice this year, but also off.
ECHL: How have you been spending your summer since the season ended at Utica?
CS: My summer has been really awesome. Since the ECHL starts so late, this is the longest I've ever been home since I was 16, so it's really nice just to spend time with family and friends. I actually had the opportunity last month to go overseas with my previous college, Utica College, and play teams in France, Switzerland and Italy. So that was a really great experience. Other than that, I’ve just been working out and golfing and getting ready for the season to start.
ECHL: What's one thing that ECHL fans would be surprised to learn about you – that can be hockey related or non-hockey related?
CS: I just got a matching tattoo with my Mom. It says FAITH and the I is a semi-colon. It is to support people that struggle with mental health – depression and anxiety and what not. I think that mental health is something that is not talked about enough - it's a really big deal in the world today. We both got the tattoo on the inside of our left wrists.
ECHL: What is the proudest hockey moment of your career to this point?
CS: As of recent it's been signing with Tulsa. There's been a lot of ups and downs to get to the point where I'm at today and it's nice to say my dream of playing professional hockey is now becoming a reality. I also played at Arizona State University the first year that they turned Division 1. I scored the first goal of the first Division 1 program, so that was also something I'll always remember.
ECHL: Do you know any of your teammates in Tulsa?
CS: I've played against a couple of the guys throughout my college career. I do personally know Jake Hildebrand - he just signed three weeks or so ago. We played each other growing up, and he was at Michigan State when I was at Ferris State, so we know each other pretty well.
ECHL: Any last words that you'd like the ECHL and Tulsa fans to know about you as you head into your first professional season?
CS: I'm looking forward to getting to Tulsa and getting the season started - I’m really excited for the opportunity!