COLUMBUS, GA – What can you say about Evan Neugold?
Another one of the new faces here in Columbus…he’s fun to watch on the ice. He’s tall, quick, and a huge presence on the ice. When I sat with Evan, Alex Pompeo was with him as well. If the chemistry between these two is anything like the chemistry on the rest of the team… it’s fun, it’s light, and it’s hilarious. We had quite a few laughs.
Evan is super chatty once he opens up, doesn’t do one-word answers, and is very quick witted. A self-proclaimed metrosexual, that has to have product in his hair so that it is just right before he goes out. You can just tell, that he’s a lover of life, and according to him, he’s an open book. His attitude is infectious with energy and laughter.
** It’s been a little bit since I sat down with Evan. Several games have passed. Alex Pompeo has been called up to the ECHL Norfolk Admirals to play. My iMac decided to lose everything on the desktop. I’ve moved. But Evan hasn’t changed. I re-transcribed our chat. All is well in my world.
I very much enjoyed my chat with Evan. I hope that you do too!
The Sin Bin: This is your first year pro?
Evan Neugold: Yep.
TSB: How does it feel?
EN: It feels great. I kinda…it’s a weird feeling that you are doing something that you dreamed about. doing your whole life. So when it finally happens, you get done with college…it’s a pretty exciting feeling. It’s a lot different that what you would expect. Also, everything that you dream about if that makes sense.
TSB: Totally. I can’t relate but can understand.
TSB: You scored your first pro goal against Pensacola. How did that feel? What were you thinking?
EN: Actually, it was a play set up by Pompeo, on the penalty kill. Kind of a broken play at the blue line. I buzzed the zone, got behind their defenders and Pompeo gave me a breakaway pass. So, I finished on it. Right at that moment, it was the get the bug off…because it was the first one. I was elated that I finally did it. But more relieved.
TSB: Did you see the replay? It was wicked!
EN: Yes, I did.
TSB: Game day prep for you. What is it like at home?
EN: At home, it’s pretty nice. It’s pretty nice because me, Pomps and Cody Castro are all roommates, so…we all get up at the same time. Get up at 8:00, get out the door by 8:30, get to the rink by 9:00 for pre-game skate. Then after that, we kinda all do our own thing for eating meals. I like to eat right after we skate. Like a nice Italian lunch. Then something light around 4:00. Between then, I just walk around a lot. I’ll walk a couple of miles. Just to keep the legs moving. Then I get really intense before the games. Listen to the same playlist over and over.
TSB: What do you listen to?
EN: Kinda all over the board. But, now more of the Meek Mill album, DC4 that he just dropped.
TSB: Any rituals or anything?
EN: I’m pretty weird when I tape my sticks. I have a really long grip. I always use baby blue tape for that. Taping my stick is when I really zone in. It’s the same way all the time. Tape both sticks no matter what.
TSB: Nothing much changes when you are on the road then?
EN: Everything kinda goes faster because you aren’t waiting around like you are at home. You get on the bus, you’re there, and you are going through your routine. I like playing on the road…it’s nice.
TSB: Any favorite place to play on the road?
EN: Pensacola. Kinda a great place to go. See the Naval air show.
TSB: What is a typical day off for you? What do you like to do?
EN: Day off…unless Pomps and I decide to go to the gym, it’s kinda just hanging out, getting back to zero. After two games on the weekend, you’re pretty beat up. So, like I was sick this week, so I just sat and hydrated. But, usually, we like to get active and go do something.
TSB: Excellent. Hobbies…do you have any hobbies?
EN: Oh yeah. I play pretty much every sport casually. I love golf, tennis, softball, baseball. I come from a pretty athletic family. Sports has always been a big part of my life. Reading as well.
TSB: (Now this piques the author/journalist in me). What do you like to read?
EN: Anything. I love history, and then I love sports biographies, stuff like that.
TSB: Are you the first one in the family to branch out into the sport of hockey?
EN: Oh no. I grew up in a hockey family. Everyone played.
TSB: If you weren’t playing hockey, what would you be doing?
EN: Coaching hockey.
TSB: Nothing else? Coaching hockey…or sports in general.
EN: Coaching hockey. Specifically that. I have always wanted to play or coach hockey since I can hold the memory. It’s what always wanted to do.
TSB: You were a tryout release with Toledo in the ECHL. What did you learn from that transition? Is that a huge difference in play from the ECHL to the SPHL?
EN: Oh definitely. The play is just…the speed is relatively the same. The EC is a little faster. But its the decision making and the skill level is a little bit higher, so it sounds weird to say. It’s a harder level of competition, but it’s easier to play in because of the skill level. The SP is a little more grind and hit. The EC is more skill.
TSB: Do you think that the SPHL is a good starting point for you?
EN: If I was given the opportunity, I wouldn’t say no. I don’t think. But, I have never had a problem with working my way up. That’s the way my whole hockey career has been. I’ve worked my way up to the highest levels. So, that’s nothing new to me. Playing in the SP now, I feel more comfortable. I am getting more used to it, and hopefully, that just helps me. It gives me a good base.
TSB: Is there a certain skill set that you have to have to be a center?
EN: I think you have to have a good mind more than anything. Center guys are guys that have good hockey IQ, know the game really well. It’s such a two-way position, where you are expected to produce offensively, but also help out defensively and help out the D. So, I think more than anything, I think you have to have a good sense of hockey, and a good hockey head on your shoulders.
TSB: So when you are in a face-off, what goes through your mind? Anything specific?
EN: I actually read and react off of what the other team is doing. So, I’ll see how they are lined up. I’ll see what center is out if my percentages are good against him or not. And then it’s just kinda letting my defense and my wingers what I’m gonna do. But, as soon as I bend over to take the face-off, I’m just watching the ref and trying to react faster.
TSB: (Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney) Crosby was accused of cheating. I’m a Pens girl, sorry. No, wait…I’m not sorry. Do you think that’s true or possible? Cheating at face-offs?
EN: I think the rules about face-offs are very lenient. There are a lot of ways to take face-offs. That is just Logan Couture (San Jose Sharks) playing the media, and getting it hyped up. Because if you watch him, he cheats too. Every center-man cheats if he can. You’re gonna do it.
TSB: Okay…so, how do you cheat?
EN: I don’t like the word cheating because it’s just…it’s not like you are cheating. You’re not cheating the game.
TSB: It’s an advantage?
EN: Exactly. You are taking advantage of the circumstance.
TSB: What makes you a great center?
EN: I think my…just my defensive ability. I think I play very well with the D in the D zone. Being able to use my body in the corners. I’m a big kid, so it’s nice when you have that size in the corners to get the puck out. Then, just creating offensive chances. Kind of defense first, and then flow it into…then throw it into the offense.
TSB: Who would you compare yourself to anyone in the NHL?
EN: That’s tough. I’m a Rangers fan and I love Rick Nash, but he’s not a center, though. I think…if I could be anyone, and I hope my skills or my attributes kind of follow his…it would be Patrice Bergeron. He’s extremely reliable. He is probably the more defensively, reliable counterman in the NHL. But he also produces some amazing offense.
TSB: How do you feel being on this team this year? Last year they guys were in last place. Was that a worry for you coming into the team?
EN: If I can be completely honest. I am a pretty spontaneous kid. I didn’t once look at the position or standings. I kinda based my decisions off of interacting with people and talking with people. When I talked with Coach Bechard, he is just a genuine guy. Regardless of their standings, I was pretty excited to come down here.
TSB: What do you want fans to know about you?
EN: I guess a fun fact is that I live on a farm!
TSB: Seriously? A farm?
EN: Back in Connecticut, yeah. I live on a horse farm. We have eight or nine horses, right now. Thirty chickens, two miniature fainting goats….
TSB: Wait…what is a fainting goat?
EN: A fainting goat has a natural instinct that when it is faced with a predator, it’s natural reaction is to faint and go stiff. We have two of them. So, it’s pretty fun if you can imagine. Sneaking up on those and scaring them stiff. It’s quite an experience. Then, of course, I can’t forget my girl Charlie, a four-hundred-pound pot bellied pig, that we have. And then our two dogs. A farm boy from the north if that makes any sense. It’s pretty ironic.
TSB: Ready for a little rapid fire? One word answers…
TSB: Favorite color.
EN: Ohhh, Deep, Hawaiian Ocean blue. It’s a different kind of blue.
TSB: So descriptive.
TSB: Favorite food?
EN: Ice cream.
TSB: What kind of ice cream?
EN: Either Rocky Road or Mint Chocolate Chip. But, also…see this is tough, I can’t rapid fire this because my uncle and Godfather is the main flavor guru for Ben and Jerry’s. So he invents Ben and Jerry’s flavors. So, I get free Ben and Jerry’s for life, which is awesome.
TSB: He needs to do a flavor for the team then.
EN: I know! If it was a bigger market, he would.
TSB: If you are out with the boys, what are you drinking?
EN: Long Island Ice Tea…hammer those down.
TSB: Movie Theatre or Netflix?
EN: Oh…that depends on a lot of things, but I’m gonna go with Netflix.
TSB: Facebook or Twitter?
EN: Neither. I love Instagram. I do Snap a bit.
TSB: So that was the next question. Instagram or Snapchat.
EN: I like both of them. I love snapping, but Instagram, I just use for all of the comedy that’s on there.
TSB: What kind of music?
EN: I don’t know what to call it. It’s like EDM, but it’s..evolved from there. Kinda like frat house music almost.
TSB: Best Halloween costume that you’ve ever worn.
EN: I wore a kid-sized Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle suit…like a tight suit. So, I had to cut it off when I got home. I wore it to a dance, so it was pretty funny.
TSB: Are you a lover or a fighter?
EN: Lover. Definitely a lover. I didn’t get this nose from fighting. (He points to his stitches).
TSB: A high stick that didn’t get called and you got stitches.
For the ten questions that I asked the players to fill out during training camp, here are Evan’s answers:
1. Using one word; how would your teammates describe you? Handsome (duhh)
2. If you were an MMA fighter, what would you walkout song be? Fragile (Saxity, feat. Min v. Remix)
3. Name one thing on your bucket list. A squirrel suit (for skydiving)
4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why? To Fly
5. What is your go-to pizza topping? Chicken Bacon Ranch…NO EXCEPTIONS
6. What would your spirit animal be? Domestic House Cat
7. What is your nickname? Neugs
8. If you teammate lost a bet and had to sing karaoke, what song would you make him sing? Breaking Free- High School Musical
9. What is your favorite hockey team/player? New York Rangers, Connor McDavid
10. If you could meet anyone famous, who would it be? Mark Messier