Jake Hildebrand recently concluded his first full professional season, primarily backstopping the Indy Fuel in addition to a December call-up to the AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs. Hildebrand, 23, is a former four-time team MVP at Michigan State University, where he also was named an All-American following his junior year. Hildebrand set the Indy Fuel team record for victories by a goaltender in a season (18), and also led the ECHL in saves with 1,653 (source ECHL.com)– another Fuel season record. Hildebrand orchestrated four shutouts last year, tied with Mac Carruth for most all-time in a Fuel sweater. Hildebrand recently spoke with us regarding his first season, his plans for the offseason and what his future may hold.
BHQ: What are some things you learned during your first full pro season?
JH: Just the whole definition of being a pro. You hear a lot of people talk about it so just the everyday coming to the rink with the mentality to get a little bit better day by day.
BHQ: Have you adjusted your technique any during your pro experience?
JH: The biggest thing was beating plays on my feet. The players in pro are able to make more passes so being able to get there on my feet rather than sliding has helped my game.
BHQ: The pro seasons are a lot longer than college. What did you do to make that transition from a physical standpoint?
JH: I learned a lot more about taking care of my body and how key rest and nutrition is during the long 72-game season. More recovery workouts just to help the body heal from the games.
BHQ: Do you have any big plans for the offseason?
JH: I have a couple trips coming up actually. I have a family vacation in Florida and then I’m going to be working a goalie camp in Scotland so I’m really excited about both those trips.
BHQ: Where do you want your goaltending or physical/mental attributes to improve this offseason? Do you have a set nutrition/training regimen that is different in the offseason?
JH: My feet and core strength are the things I’m looking to improve the most. I don’t have a set diet over summer but I do like to cook so I like to try different things and new recipes.
BHQ: What is the end-of-season process like as a Fuel, and Rockford, player?
JH: They were very similar to the end of the year meetings in juniors and college. A brief summary of how they thought your season went and then possible plans for next year.
BHQ: If someone were considering coming to play in Indianapolis, what would you have to say to them?
JH: It’s a great place to be. Starting with the ownership and going down the line this organization treated everyone first class and it was a very enjoyable experience here.
BHQ: Do you anticipate returning to Indy next season or are you looking for bigger things?
JH: I’m not sure how where I’m going to end up for next season, those things will work themselves out, but I definitely loved my time here.
Here at Blue HQ, we would like to thank Jake for a memorable season with the Fuel, including not only his high-level goaltending as one of the best young prospects in Fuel history, but also for being a great ambassador in the community. Hildebrand quickly became a fan favorite among Fuel fans due to his on-ice and off-ice contributions to Indianapolis. Stay tuned to Blue HQ over the offseason as we keep you up to date on roster moves made by not only the Fuel, but the affiliate Blackhawks and IceHogs that have implications for Indy.