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From College to Development Camp, Collin Graf’s Journey

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Collin Graf
Photo of Collin Graf via ECAC Hockey

Since he was three years old Collin Graf always had a knack for skating. He would see the older children on the opposite end whilst learning how to hold his own.

It was then he knew he wanted to learn how to be a hockey player and never looked back. Graf told his parents he wanted to play and then one day once he was ready jumped right in.

“It took me two years to learn to skate well enough so I could go down to that end and then once I made it down there I got to experience it for the first time,” Graf said. “Every year since I was five I’ve played hockey.”

Graf was one of the five players invited to the Nashville Predators annual development camp this summer. Last year he was invited to skate with the Florida Panthers prospects.

“In Nashville specifically, we spent a lot of time on development which I thought was really good,” Graf said. “Even though it was a week I tried to pick up tricks and tools to use in game scenarios, not just like practice stuff but things that would help me succeed.”

Graf said it was Predators North American scout Greg Drechsel who reached out to his advisor and after staying in touch he landed on joining the Predators for development camp.

As a member of the Quinnipiac Bobcats he was part of the historic run to win the school’s first-ever national championship. Graf will be back in a gold sweater representing the Bobcats for his junior season with one main goal in mind.

“Winning another national championship, that was pretty cool the first time,” Graf said. “Personally, building on what I’ve done development wise. Adding weight and try to out do what I did this year for points. I’m always trying to improve. I tied the Quinnipiac record this year so my goal is break it.”

Graf is tied for the most points in a season with Bryan Leitch from the 2008-09 campaign scoring 59 points.

However, looking back one of Graf’s biggest moments in college was scoring the tying goal to force overtime against the University of Minnesota in the national championship. Before going back to the ice for the sudden death period head coach Rand Pecknold asked his team one question.

“You guys want to win this game?”

The whole locker room went berserk and the rest was history.

Quinnipiac ran a play called “The Jet” to begin overtime and it was something the Bobcats practiced religiously during the season and it never resulted in a goal until the final moment of the season.

“We only scored one goal right off the faceoff that entire year and it was that one,” Graf said.

Following his invitation to camp with Nashville Graf wants to take the best development path for him and make a decision that way.

“There was interest after my season from a few teams for sure,” he said. “I think it came down to what was best for my development. I want to be in a spot where I get ice time and puck touches. Work on things I need to work on and not be in a position where I’m not going to play a lot or play at all.

“It was a tough decision both ways. There are great options and I think at the end of the day I decided that going through with another year in Quinnipiac was the best decision for me.”

While Graf was at camp he roomed with defenseman Tanner Molendyk who was picked 24th overall by the Predators this summer.

“He was already there for the entire week before and was more than welcoming with me taking over half of his room,” Graf said.

Going back to school this fall the forward is poised to capitalize on his strengths and takeaways from his time in Nashville.

“I’m taking what I’ve learned from the last two years and trying to build on what I’ve done to become an NHL player, I think that’s the goal,” Graf said. “There’s stuff to work on and it’s a mix of getting my degree, getting stronger, working on skating and perfecting some other things before I try to go pro.”

Follow Nick Kieser on Twitter: @KieserNick