Hat Tricks Insider Q&A with Michael Marchesan

by Jim Cerny, Hat Tricks Insider

Michael Marchesan had a dream first season as a professional hockey player in 2022-23. The 6-foot-5 forward was second on the Hat Tricks with 34 goals in the regular season and then tied for the FPHL lead with eight goals in the postseason.

His most important goal was the overtime-winner in the decisive Game 5 of the Commissioner’s Cup Final against the Carolina Thunderbirds that lifted the Hat Tricks to their first championship. The 22-year-old was subsequently named MVP of the FPHL playoffs.

Back home in Canada, Marchesan recently sat down for this Q&A with Hat Tricks Insider Jim Cerny.

What do you remember about scoring the championship-winning goal against Carolina?

“It was a blackout after I scored. But when ‘X’ (defenseman Xavier Abdella) shot that puck on net, the defenseman tried to clear the rebound but missed. I saw 5-hole when the puck came to me. I just remember smacking it hard and I thought it would go in so quickly but it felt like 15 seconds before it crossed that line. Watching it now on video, it’s like a second-and-a-half. Right after that, it was a blackout. My helmet and gloves shed right off. I don’t remember saying this but Tobias (Odjick), ‘Gonzo’ (Kyle Gonzalez), (Lucas) DeBenedet, everyone was telling me all I was screaming was ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ and ‘We did it! We did it!’”

So, tell the truth. How many times have you watched video of your championship goal and the celebration afterward?

“Well, first, I don’t let my friends back home (in Ontario) hear the end of it! Just joking! But yeah, I’ve watched it over and over, watch the celebration, always see something I hadn’t seen before. I’ve watched it with my parents, my friends. And ‘J Mac’ (defenseman Johnny Macdonald) and Tobias came over for Canada Day weekend and we watched it together, too. It’s a memory that will be there forever. It's just so cool.”

You led the FPHL in goals scored during the playoffs but didn’t score in the Final until the deciding Game 5. How much pressure did you feel as the series against Carolina progressed?

“I won’t lie, I’m the hardest guy on my myself and obviously it stinks I hadn’t scored (the first four games of the Final). But what stinks even more is that we got punked the first two games (losing Games 1 and 2), so it was burden on me and I felt like I had to get going. But I felt that if I wasn’t doing that specific thing well, I had to be doing something else well, like defending or hitting. So, when we got back home (for Games 3-5) I wasn’t even thinking about scoring, I was focused on doing the right things to help this team any way I can.”

Then in Game 5, you scored two goals, including the championship-winner.

“’Ames’ (forward Daniel Amesbury) came up to me before Game 5 and said you’re going to get a bunch tonight. And then driving with Tobias on the way to the rink, we were like ‘This is the biggest stage, the biggest moment. We’re going to score!’ And I was just like, ‘You know what? Yeah! Let’s just do it!’ And it turns out I score one in the first (period), then Tobias scored and then it ended the way it did.”

Can you explain why the Hat tricks were so good on home ice this season (30-2-2, including the playoffs)?

“The fans create a home-ice advantage that is second to none. It’s a small building but it’s packed every game. Especially with the (Netflix) documentary and the history, it’s a scary place to play. My first pro game (with Binghamton) was against Danbury and I was shaking in my boots! Not going to lie. I was like ‘What is going on?’ You can’t prepare for the way it is in Danbury.

What was the biggest lesson you learned in your rookie season?

“The biggest thing I learned was confidence. I was in Huntsville (in the SPHL) to start the year, got dropped. Then I was in Binghamton, got no playing time (3 games, 0 points) and my confidence was shot. (Hat Tricks coach/GM Billy McCreary) gave me an opportunity and I just said ‘Ok, I’ll probably get cut but who cares? I’m going to go out there, play my game and have fun with it.’ That first weekend, I got a goal (against Motor City) and I just ran with it. So, I learned about confidence, and Billy was a huge part of that. He would never rip on anyone. Instead, he’d show you what you did and how to fix it. He was the biggest key helping me this season.”

What was your “Welcome to the Hat Tricks” moment?

“My second weekend, we were in Elmira and were down 3-1. And I don’t why but I had a rush, went through the legs of their guys and scored. Guys were like ‘Wow!’ I scored twice and we came back to win (5-4 in overtime). So, yeah, that was my welcome to the team.”

Other than winning the Commissioner’s Cup and scoring the championship-winning goal, what are you most proud of from this past season?

“Can’t beat being named playoff MVP because that’s when it all matters, all the regular-season stats go right out the window. That was a really special one for me.”

Photos: Chris Rutsch