Wildcat in Hockeytown

AnnMarie Kent

Between 2010 and 2013 Jared Coreau was the goalie for NMU. The former Wildcat now plays for the Grand Rapids Griffins and spent the past weekend at the Detroit Red Wings Training Camp.

re-redwingstraining-2908Coreau still loves Marquette. He said the community was friendly and the beaches in the summer were like Florida, well besides ice-cold Lake Superior.

“Everyone is just so nice,” Coreau said. “In a way it’s like Alaska. A lot of people go up there to just kind of get away from everything.”

While the winters were treacherous, he said it just brought everyone closer together. Everyone stayed inside to keep warm but ended up hanging out and doing homework together.

Coreau said he and his teammate, Dan Cleary, still talk about Wildcat head coach Walt Kyle all the time. Kyle was Cleary’s first NHL coach and both men admire Kyle.

“He cracks me up, but he knows his hockey,” Coreau said. “He’s a big character person. If you show him respect and that you work hard, he’s going to give you respect and the opportunity you deserve.” Kyle gave Coreau those opportunities. Coreau played in 38 games his final season with the Wildcats, recording a save percentage of 0.92.

Coreau played at NMU when the Wildcats were part of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, a conference that includes Michigan State, The University of Michigan, Ohio State University and other high profile universities. He loved the feeling of playing in the Berry Events Center during those games.

“The Berry, it would get rockin’,” Coreau said. “It got pretty loud when that horn would go off. I love the Berry.”

He had one complaint about the Berry—The visitor dressing room was too nice. Visiting teams were too comfortable in there; it made them feel at home.

“That’s no good,” he said. “We’ve got to make them uncomfortable, make the room really small or really stink or something.”

Coreau said there isn’t any big secret to making it into professional hockey, besides just working as hard as you can.

“Just work hard. It’s super simple,” he said. “I always wish I had a more detailed and vast answer.”

You’re not going to be handed everything just because you work hard though, Coreau said. It involves working hard, taking care of your body, doing extra work and taking the opportunities you’re given. Coreau attributes his level headedness and mental toughness to his success in hockey. He said coaches in the pros are going to be straight with you and tell you the things you’re not good at, and many players don’t take the constructive criticism to make them better, they let it get them down.

His first year in the pros, Coreau won only a single game and he said it could have been easy for him to let that get him down. When the Griffins hired goalie coach Jeff Salajko it changed Coreau.

“He was probably one of the best things that happened to me,” Coreau said. “We just put in the work, we got back to doing simple basic stuff that I did in college and just found my game again.”

While Coreau said he had a rough transition into professional hockey, he said it can be easier with the right mindset. He thought going from college to pro hockey would be this huge leap so he needed to change his game.

“Really, if you just trust the skill that you have and the work you’ve put in throughout the summer, the transition can be a bit smoother than the way I made it,” Coreau said.

The self-proclaimed Chipotle Mexican Grill addict said he loves living in Grand Rapids, because while Border Grill is good, it’s not Chipotle.

Coreau said he’s buying a house in Toronto so he’s close to his home in Perth, Ontario and Detroit. In the next few years Coreau hopes to move on from Grand Rapids and get a spot on the Detroit Red Wings roster.

“Detroit is … it’s the Detroit Red Wings. It’s not just a hockey team, it’s a heritage, it’s a way of life really,” Coreau said. “The fans in Detroit are loyal, whether it’s the Lions, Tigers, the Red Wings.”