GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Detroit Red Wings have had to call up both Grand Rapids Griffins goalies this season due to injuries to their top two goalies in Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson. That meant the Griffins had to call up Jared Coreau from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.
The Red Wings signed Coreau as an undrafted free agent in April 2013 after he spent three seasons playing at Northern Michigan University. During his first six games with the Griffins this season, Coreau went 6-0-0-0 with a 1.29 GAA and .955 save percentage. Coreau also has been a big part of the Griffins’ current 19-game point streak that started back on Feb. 4.
Coreau sat down with The Hockey Writers after Grand Rapids’ 3-1 win against the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday during 90s night to talk about the Griffins, his relationship with McCollum and his shower singing skills.
The Hockey Writers: How do you explain this point streak you guys are going through right now?
Jared Coreau: Oh, it’s memorable to say the least. I don’t know what the league record is, but it’s 19 games in a row with at least one (point). The guys are playing well. Tommy’s playing well, Petr (Mrazek) played well when he was down, I’ve played pretty well. Everyone is just clicking.
THW: What’s the confidence level like in the locker room right now?
JC: We’re confident. Guys are walking in — we’re expecting to win, and we know what it takes to win. We’re still trying to keep an even keel, because you can’t go into a game thinking everything is going to go your way. Tonight, we had to come back after they scored the first one.
THW: What improvements have you seen since you first got on this team?
JC: When I first came up at the beginning of the year, coming into training camp, we had a really good team — really good lineup on paper, and we had a bit of a rough start. I think the biggest thing is guys are just buying into the system. They are tracking back faster on their backchecks, guys are blocking shots. In the D zone, we are getting back as five connected. So we use five guys instead of maybe three like earlier in the year and wouldn’t get the puck out. So, I think we are just buying into the system.
THW: What was behind the decision to go to college after a couple of years in juniors?
JC: It actually roots back to my sixth grade teacher. He talked about playing a sport and getting an education for free. It just kind of stuck in my head. I was the first one in my family to go to college, so that was a big deal. That was part of it too, and I always did well in school, so I thought if I’m going to get a free education, I might as well play hockey while I do it.
THW: Did you get a degree?
JC: I still got a year left. It’s an accounting degree. Taking a summer class each summer since I’ve been out. It’ll take a while, but I’ll get it done.
THW: What was it about Northern Michigan that made you want to go there?
JC: I talked to several other schools, but Northern seemed like the perfect size. The biggest thing they offered me was a full ride. That was huge. I knew they weren’t going to be a team that I was going to hide behind. I’ve seen a lot of goalies that go on really, really good junior or college teams, and they don’t get any better. We were always middle of the pack. There was some nights I had a lot of work, there was some nights I didn’t. But it was a good mix. The coach there, Walt Kyle, he had been in the NHL for 11 years as an assistant coach. So, it was good to get that kind of coaching, and it was a good group of guys, too.
THW: Weather was pretty similar to what you’re used to in Canada?
JC: I don’t know, the winters are pretty brutal up there. A lot more wind. It’s the kind of wind you step outside, and it hurts your face. Yeah, it was cold.
THW: Who are you the closest with on this team?
JC: On this team, Tommy and I are pretty close — couple of goalies. (Colin) Campbell I’m pretty close with, (Andreas Athanasiou) double A get along pretty good. Pretty close with (Xavier Ouellet) X, we were roommates last year, so spent a lot of time with him last year.
THW: What’s your relationship like with Tommy? It’s certainly a different dynamic because you are competing with him for the No. 1 spot.
JC: We teach each other stuff every day when we do goalie drills. He does some things differently than I do. If something’s not quite working for me, I’ll see how he does it, try it out, if I like it, good. And same thing for him. We get along great — we always have laughs. It is a healthy completion. We are competing for the same job, and I think that’s the best part of it because we push each other to be better. It really helps, because it’s better for the team.
THW: Do you see him outside of the rink?
JC: We get lunch at times. Usually, when the goalie coach is in town, it’s the three of us, we are like the Three Stooges. We usually go out to lunch when he’s in town. I’ve seen Tommy a couple of times just out for dinner or something like that, so it’s a good relationship.
THW: What got you into hockey in the first place?
JC: I went to my first NHL game when I was 7. And I sat three rows behind the glass of the goalie, and the next morning I said “I want to be a goalie,” and that was it.
THW: Do you remember what game that was?
JC: It was in Ottawa. It was Senators versus the Buffalo Sabres. Damian Rhodes was in net for the Senators, and Dominik Hasek was in net for the Sabres. Hasek won 3-0. I’ve tried to look up the date before, punch in the score, but I can’t find it.
THW: Who did you idolize growing up?
JC: Curtis Joseph. Through the outdoor game last year, it was the alumni game for the Red Wings and Maple Leafs, it was at Comerica Park also, and (Griffins equipment manager Brad Thompson) Dogg was able to get me a signed stick of Curtis Joseph. That was huge, and I have his old trapper.
THW: Have you met him?
JC: I have not, but I plan to. One of these days.
THW: Any superstitions?
JC: Yeah, but I can’t tell you.
THW: Fair enough. Favorite hockey memory?
JC: I think signing my first NHL contract. It was a pretty long road just coming up. Got cut quite a few times as a kid. It was a really good feeling — it’s hard to explain.
THW: What is a hidden talent or something we might not know about you?
JC: (Pauses) Hidden talent. I can sing pretty well in the shower. I’d say that’s probably the best one.
THW: What do you enjoy singing the most?
JC: Well, usually the stuff tonight, 90s stuff. Sometimes, it’s a little Britney Spears or Shania Twain. Usually something that gets a charge out of everyone else.
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Tom Mitsos is a writer from Michigan who covers the Red Wings and the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for The Hockey Writers.