Measures Up: Mike Lalonde
State's Mike Lalonde is among the nation's leaders in goals
couple months into his final season of junior hockey with the
British Columbia Hockey League’s Prince George Spruce Kings,
Mike Lalonde’s chances of playing NCAA hockey didn’t
look good. He’d missed the beginning of the season after
a quadriceps muscle contusion calcified and, as he was preparing
to return to the lineup, re-aggravated the injury in November.
up the following month and made enough of an impact to draw the
interest of a few Division I programs. He ended up committing
to Michigan State and almost immediately proved to be a solid
from Chetwynd, B.C. – a small town in the province’s
far northern reaches – is more than just a solid contributor
these days. Now a junior, Lalonde enters the Spartans’ weekend
series at Bowling Green ranked tied for seventh nationally with
14 goals and tied for 11th in the country with 26 points. Inside
College Hockey’s Mike Eidelbes recently caught up with Lalonde
and talked about his career thus far.
Inside College Hockey: You weren’t a highly
recruited player coming out of the BCHL. In fact, you committed
to Michigan State in the spring of your last year of junior hockey.
Lalonde: It was sort of a last-minute thing. I was in
the last half of my last year in junior because I was hurt during
the first half of the season. I had put together 10 or 15 pretty
good games and people started to notice. Thankfully, everything
worked out fine and I was grateful to have a chance to come down
Did you ever have doubts about getting to the college level?
When the injury came, doctors told me that I'd never be able to
come back. I just kept my head up the best I could, went back
and told them that I need to try to play. They said, 'If you're
going to try to play, or even have the opportunity, these are
the things you need to do.' I was close [to returning] that November,
but it got pushed back to December when I got hurt again in practice.
Just when you try to come back and you get hurt with the same
injury and have to back off and not do anything...it's disheartening
when you really want to play the game you love.
You used the fact that you came into the Michigan State program
with little fanfare to your advantage in that nobody knew what
to expect from you, yet you managed to turn the coaches’
heads almost immediately.
It takes a lot of weight off your shoulders when you're not highly
recruited like a Jim Slater and when you don't end up producing,
people are asking questions about you. When you come in like I
did and no one really expects much from you and you end up having
a decent season, that's when all the work you've done pays off.
When did you get to the point where you felt like you had settled
in as a contributor on the team?
I'd say 10 games in. I was playing pretty well and had gotten
rid of the freshman jitters and all the excitement. Right before
Christmas, I saw myself having a pretty good chance [of contributing]
so I went home, regrouped, came back and had a pretty good second
half. That was the turning point in realizing that I can play
and score a couple goals here and there and be a good player.
You and Jim Slater have very good on-ice chemistry. What has allowed
you guys to thrive together?
ML: I've always been fairly good on
the wall and he's very good at reading things and getting up in
the play and creating breaks. When some people would hang back
and wait for a pass, he just goes. It makes my job easy –
I can just chip it out toward the far blue line and he's skating
right in. I've gotten a little more speed over the last year where
I can keep up with him and join him a little more instead of hitting
him with a pass and following up.
One of your best attributes is your attitude. No matter how bad
things are going on the ice, you always seem to get through it
and smile when it’s over and done. How do you keep such
a positive outlook?
Sometimes there are a lot worse things that can happen. That's
what I've learned from the injury and coming from a small place.
There are a lot worse situations than I can be in. I'm ecstatic
to be here at Michigan State on a scholarship playing college
hockey. That was always my dream.
What are trips back to your hometown like?
It's pretty fun because I only get to do in for a couple weeks
a year. A lot of people are excited, especially my family members.
A lot of my family is still there and they're all like my best
friends. It's a big gathering.
No wonder you only get to go a couple times a year. It’s
not the easiest road trip, is it?
I usually fly from [East Lansing] to Edmonton and drive the eight
hours home, but for Christmas when it's a little shorter time
I'll get the money together to fly into either Prince George or
Grande Prairie and drive 2-3 hours instead of the full eight.