6 with the Tricks: Nicola Levesque
Welcome back to "6 with the Tricks," where we get to know the newest Danbury Hat Tricks in six questions. Today, we're sitting down with veteran scorer and Player/Coach, Nicola Levesque! Levesque is a career point-per-game player in the FPHL, with 58 points in 56 games played. Most recently he played for the Watertown Wolves in 2018, where he won the FPHL Commissioner's Cup.
Let's check in with Nicola!
Q: You’ll be taking on a dual role this year as a player/coach. Is it tough to balance the dynamic between teammate and authority figure? How is your preparation for the season different now adding in the coaching element?
Nicola Levesque: I'm very excited for this opportunity and this new challenge. I don’t think there has been any change to my usual summer preparation. My job is to train hard in the summer and show up ready and in shape for training camp and opening night. The coaching side, I will just have to learn and adjust as we go. I will be a teammate first and foremost; I don’t see myself as an authority figure. I believe we have one of the best coaches in the league and he will be there to guide me in this new role and to guide the rest of the team into buying into a winning culture. I’ve had a few previous experiences in coaching in the Dekhockey world. I coached the Team USA men's team last November when I was injured and coached the USA U19 and U17 teams this summer in Montreal where we brought home two medals. I believe this will help me with the transition. I am looking forward to it!
Q: What is it going to be like playing for and coaching with Billy McCreary?
NL: It will be an amazing and enriching experience. He obviously has a great knowledge of the game and I look forward to learning from him. I have heard only good stuff about Coach McCreary, and I believe we have the same mentality when it comes to the game of hockey. From talking to him a couple of times on the phone over the summer, I think our ideas connect and this will be very beneficial. I also think I play the game kind of like he used to play. I'm a team-first type of player that will do everything it takes to win games. I know he was the same way when he played, and he loved to get under the other team’s skin. He is the type of player that played with heart and passion every night and I look up to that. I couldn’t be more excited to play for, and work with, Billy McCreary. It’s going to be a great season!
Q: You’re a proven scorer at any level, including in the world of Dekhockey. What’s it like to represent the US in international tournaments like the World Cup of Dekhockey? Does playing in a more confined space like that help your skill level?
NL: It is honestly one of the most rewarding and surreal experiences I have ever been a part of. It was an absolute honor to have been selected twice to play at an international level. Playing in those big events and competing against the best players from all around the world is such a unique experience. It also gave me the chance to visit different places in the world such as Slovakia and Austria.
Yes! Playing 3-on-3 Dekhockey has helped me a ton with my ice game. As you mentioned, playing in a more confined and tight area is so beneficial for a hockey player. This version of the game forces you to make quick decisions and to read and react much faster. It also helps a lot with puck protection, stick handling and scoring abilities. With the surface of play being so small, you are always in a scoring situation whether it’s offensively or defensively, so you constantly must move your head and be ready on transitions to pick up a guy or to make an offensive play. Playing on shoes is also a great conditioning because you can’t glide like you can on the ice and if you are lazy defensively, you will be exposed, and it will result in an automatic scoring chance for the other team. I also believe it helps with the compete level as this game is filled with 1-on-1 battles and when you play at those high levels, it gets very physical. It’s an amazing sport that I am very passionate about!
Q: You won the FPHL Commissioners Cup in 2018 with Watertown. Not only that, you were a point-per-game player in the playoffs. What was it like to win and what do you think needs to happen to bring the Cup home to Danbury?
NL: Winning the cup with Watertown in 2018 was by far my best hockey moment so far. Winning a championship is an indescribable feeling and I still get goosebumps just talking about it. There is really nothing else like it. On top of winning, you also create strong bonds with your teammates and memories that will last for a lifetime.
I believe we have a very strong roster this season and we have a good mix of older players who have won before and who know what it takes to win at that level. We also have younger players coming in that are hungry to prove that they can play at that level. I am a firm believer that the team spirit and the heart and attitude in a locker room and on the ice is the most important recipe in being a wining team. To me, it is the key to winning a championship.
Q: Take me through the gameday routine. Who’s on the pre-game playlist? Pre-game meal? Any superstitions or rituals?
NL: My pre-game playlist is all over the place. I have a few go-to's but I don’t listen to a specific type of music...just whatever will get me going in the moment, depending on the mood I’m in. My pregame meal is usually chicken, vegetables and fruit. I don’t have any specific rituals, but I must admit I am very superstitious. I will always do the same thing on a game day and prepare the same exact way. If we win, I will do the same exact thing for the next game day. I will nap at the same exact time, eat the same meal, tape my stick the same way, etc. If we lose, I will switch it up.
Q: Favorite player growing up?
NL: I would have to say my model and favorite player growing up was my older brother, Patrik. He is one of the most skilled players I have ever seen. But most importantly, he was the most passionate hockey player I have ever met. He would always train me in the summer and his passion and love for the game was like no one else. I always admired that of him, and I don’t think I would be the player I am today without him. I would also have to give a little credit to another older brother, Mat. He was a goalie and was probably the most in shape person I’ve ever worked out with. Growing up, it was always nice having a goalie brother that I could shoot on in the summertime! I must say I was very lucky growing up being surrounded by great role models!
You can catch Nicola Levesque in action Friday, October 25th at Danbury Arena as the Hat Tricks open their season against the Port Huron Prowlers. For tickets, visit danburyhattricks.com/tickets.
Photos courtesy of Nicola Levesque