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Interview with Justin Florek

Justin was born and raised in Marquette, MI. He first learned to skate when he was 2 years old, as his mom would take him to the PEIF on her lunch breaks as a nursing student at NMU. Justin is currently under contract with the New York Islanders, and playing for their AHL farm team the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He is married to his amazing wife Kylie Florek, and father to their daughter, Lilian.

Mike Lowery: How and Why did you start playing hockey?

Justin Florek: I think initially it was because of my family, my dad and uncles played hockey growing up for Marquette Junior Hockey. I was put in many other sports but hockey was always my favorite and what I had most fun playing.

ML: What are the biggest challenges you currently face with your career in hockey?

JF: Trying to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL, and figuring out how to do that! I have played in the NHL, I have played in the NHL playoffs, and I have even scored in both. I know I can play at the highest level, it is just a matter of getting the right break at the right time and sticking in the NHL.

ML: What are some of your biggest accomplishments to date?

JF: Off the ice, getting married, having a beautiful daughter, and graduating from Northern Michigan University. On the ice; winning a Bronze medal at the U-18 World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Playing for my hometown university, NMU, Making the NCAA tourney while at NMU, getting drafted by the Boston Bruins, scoring a regular season goal in the NHL, and in the playoffs against the Red Wings.

ML: What are your future goals in the game of hockey?
JF: My goal is to make it back to the NHL. I want to also be an ambassador for the game and help kids reach their dreams, just like players did for me as I grew up.

ML: What do you like to do in your spare time (hobbies, off-season, etc.)
JF: I love to fish, maybe even a little too much (if there is such a thing). I enjoy golfing, and watersports.

ML: Who and what have been your biggest influences to get you to this point in your career?

JF: My parents were great influences when I was younger, they always supported me no matter what. As I got older I began to look up to certain local teams and the players that were on them. I always wanted the biggest and next best thing. I think the local hockey community in Marquette was a great influence because it has helped so many hockey players move onto the next level. Watching local players move up in the hockey world gave me the confidence that I could do it.

ML: What is the day-to-day in season life of a professional hockey player?
JF: Well it is literally day-to-day. You always have to be ready to do your best, no matter what situation. You could get called up at any point, or you could also get sent down. No matter where you are, you just have to have a positive mindset, go out there and do the best you can.

ML: If you could change anything about your career up until this point, what would you change?

JF: Tough question, I don’t believe I would change a thing. It has been a crazy journey, but an amazing one. I have met so many great people, played in so many cool places, it’s tough to say I would change anything else because it has made me into who I am today.

ML: Can you provide me with some advice to share for the prospective NCAA or professional hockey player?
JF: Don’t overthink it. It is easy as a young hockey player to get caught up in all of the hype out there. Don’t worry if you’re not a phenom at 15, many of those kids won’t even play college hockey. If you are one of the best, you have to work even harder because there are so many kids trying to take your title from you. I live by a quote that I tell myself every day, it can be related to anything in life. “Every day you either get better, or you get worse.” At the end of every day if you can tell yourself that you got better today, then I believe you will be successful.

ML: What does your in season training and off-season training consist of?
JF: Off season consists of a nice break from skating once the season is over. It is a great time to take a mental break from the game. I will even take a break from working out. After a few weeks of not working out I will ease my way into working out. Once I am back working out at 100% I will then ease my way back onto the ice, working up towards training camp in September.  In season is a little different, and each team I have been on works out a little differently. It is mostly to maintain the strength you built in the offseason, and injury prevention.

ML: What are some of the best things you have been taught or learned about the game?

JF: Always to do my best, give 100%, and have fun. When I am missing one of those components, it is extremely hard to do the other two.

ML: What are some of the best things you have been taught or learned that you can use outside of the game?

JF: Be passionate about what you do, do it to the best of your ability, and have fun!

ML: What was life like playing in the NCAA?

JF: I loved it. It was an amazing feeling to play in my hometown for Northern Michigan University. Playing against some of the biggest schools in the country, and beating them was awesome. Beating the University of Michigan in Marquette to a sellout crowd is something I will never forget.

ML: How was your experience with the US National Development Team?

JF: It is an amazing program. The hockey is unbeatable, along with the experience. Playing for your country, competing in World Championships, one of the coolest things I have done.

ML: What are your future goals outside of hockey?
JF: I want to give my family the best life I can. I have a dream of owning a charter fishing business, and being a charter captain. I would also enjoy coaching later in life and helping out kids with the game of hockey.

ML: How do you juggle being a professional hockey player, husband and father?
JF: Sometimes it can be very difficult. I am very fortunate to have such a great wife and daughter. They are very understanding with my job, and the lifestyle that comes with it. We try to make the best of the situations, knowing that my career won’t last forever we just live in the moment.

Favorite Five: Pregame Meal?/Player of All-Time?/Pro Hockey
Team?/Hockey Memory?/Place to play?

JF: Salmon, rice, veggies

Steve Yzerman

Detroit Red Wings

Scoring a playoff goal for Boston against the Red Wings. My wife, daughter, and parents were in the stands.

Being a huge Wings fan growing up, playing at Joe Louis Arena was always special. We played there a few times in college, once being the CCHA championship game, and then I also played there a few times against the Red Wings.

Thank you for your time Justin and I wish you and your family the best of luck in the future!

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