CHP In-depth Profile: Michael Downing
By Bob Miller CHP Managing Editor July 13, 2012
When Michael Downing dons the red, white and blue of the USA Select U-18 team in mid-August in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, it will mark one more step in the path that Downing followed from minor hockey in the Detroit area, to playing for his local high school team (Detroit Catholic Central) and to finally competing in the USHL for Dubuque this past season.
If all goes according to plan, Downing will be a top choice in next June’s NHL Draft and carry on his career at the school to which he’s committed, the University of Michigan.
Earlier in July, Downing was named to NHL Central Scouting’s “A List” of prospects for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Such a listing is indicative of the scouting bureau consideration of first round potential.
“It’s a huge accomplishment being named to that, but anything can happen throughout the year,” said Downing, a 6-3 185 defenseman from Canton, Michigan. “I’m still the same me and I’m going to keep pushing myself to stay on that list because, like I said, even being mentioned for the draft is every kid’s dream.”
Photo courtesy of Michael Downing
Downing took the time to talk with College Hockey PROSPECTive recently on a series of topics.
On his style of play:
”I am an offensive defensmen who loves to rush the puck and create scoring chances. At the same time, I know when to join a play and when not to join a play. My biggest key factor is that I’m very solid defensively and I would dive face first to block a shot because one goal could make a difference in a game. The most important part to my game is keeping the puck out of our net. I play exactly the same as Niklas Krownwall (of the Detroit Red Wings). I love to throw big hits. I’m solid defensively and I am a humble leader.”
On his improvements with Dubuque this past season:
“My biggest improvement this year was on and off the ice, and that was my attitude and my maturity level. When I first came into Dubuque, many people questioned me and whether or not I was ready for junior hockey. I was scratched the second game of the season for a reason and it was to learn. I learned everyday in practice it was a chance to wear the Dubuque sweater on a Friday and Saturday night. I grew so much as a person that now people don’t question me. They come up to me and tell me I act like a player who has been in the league for three years.”
On representing USA Hockey this summer internationally:
“Being named to the Ivan Hlinka team is a dream come true. Anytime you get the chance to put on the USA jersey and represent your country is huge. There is no better feeling besides winning the gold. Going into the tournament, I feel we have a very good chance to bring home the gold. We have a great group of guys and a fantastic coaching staff. Like I said, you really can’t put this feeling into words.”
On his influences in the game:
“I could credit thousands of people for my successful hockey career, but there are a few names I would like to mention. First of all, my family. I strongly believe that without family you go no where. They are the most important people in your life. I would also like to credit my coach growing up, Mike Hamilton, who taught me just about everything you need to know. But the main person is my brother Jake ( a teammate in Dubuque). He has always pushed me to a level where sometimes I thought I was in hell. Now, at the age of 17, if I miss one day in the gym, I feel like I’m lost. He has helped me mature and become the person I am today.”
On his immediate plans for the upcoming season:
“Next year I plan on returning to Dubuque. It is such a great place and the fans there are fantastic. I love the situation I am in because, in my mind, there is no better junior coach like Jim Montgomery. Also Grant Stanbrook, who basically has a brain for the game. There is not one thing he doesn’t know about hockey, not one.”
On his commitment to play college hockey at Michigan:
“I committed to Michigan for several reasons. The two main reasons are that it’s every parents’ dream to see their kid play college hockey and, more importantly, in your home state. The other reason is that I’ve been in love with the school since I was four. When you know, you know, and I just fell in love. Playing at Yost (Ice Arena) is just a dream come true because there are so many historic moments there. I honestly just can’t wait to be a Wolverine.”
On looking forward to the NHL draft:
“I am really excited for this year just because it is an important year for the 1995 birth class. In all honesty, I don’t even look forward to tomorrow. I take it day by day and, in the end, all the hard work will pay off. Even being mentioned for the draft is a huge accomplishment. Seeing all the kids go in this years draft makes me very, very motivated to be the best I can be everyday. All in all, I’m just really looking forward to this year and the team that we have.”
Photo courtesy of Michael Downing