UW freshman defenseman Frankie Simonelli seems to be making good impressions on and off the ice during the first month of the season.
He's played four of the first six games and clearly gotten more comfortable with each outing. It would be a surprise if he isn't a fixture among the top six blue-liners as the season moves along.
A product of Bensenville, Ill., who turns 18 this week, Simonelli was a consistent force for the U.S. National Team Developmental Program under-18 squad last season. He finished with a plus-16 rating even though the team based in Ann Arbor, Mich., played against top college and junior programs.
Simonelli, who intends to major in legal studies, is also making a name for himself away from the rink. His roommates, freshmen forwards Tyler Barnes, Michael Mersch and Mark Zengerle, have learned Simonelli is good in the kitchen and appear more than willing to exploit their good fortune.
Cooking and hockey were among the topics when Simonelli spoke after practice Monday.
Question: I understand you can cook. True?
Frankie Simonelli: "I'm the chef at the apartment.''
Q: Did you get nominated or did you volunteer?
FS: "Everyone knew coming in that I was the cook. Me and Mike (Mersch) were in Ann Arbor together and I used to always do a lot of cooking there. He told the other guys and now everyone wants me to cook.''
Q: That's quite a compliment. So you must be good, right?
FS: "Yeah, I'm all right. I learned a lot from mom and grandma.''
Q: Is your family in the restaurant business?
FS: "No, just a good Italian mom and grandma.''
Q: What's your culinary strength?
FS: "I can cook anything. I like experimenting.''
Q: If you need to impress someone with a meal, what are you making?
FS: "Some sort of pasta for sure.''
Q: Enough about food. What didn't you know going into the WCHA season that you know now after the series last weekend in Denver?
FS: "The first four games before going into the WCHA were fast-paced, but not as much hitting. Once the WCHA started -- especially against Denver, a rivalry team -- it was a lot more physical and a lot faster.''
Q: Your experience in Ann Arbor had to have helped, right, because your played a lot of games against college programs?
FS: "It helped a ton. Playing almost 20 college games last year between D-I and D-III. We played Wisconsin and Cornell. We played a bunch of top schools. Those games definitely helped a lot. Experience is everything.''
Q: What's the biggest adjustment someone in your position has to make coming to UW, school or hockey?
FS: "The biggest adjustment for me has been school and managing school and hockey.''
Q: What's the best advice you've received since you've been here?
FS: "Definitely time management with hockey and school -- everything in your life. Everything here is overwhelming and if you don't grasp it all and you don't manage your time well, you're going to fall behind. Your school will affect your hockey and your hockey will affect your school.''
Q: Who's your go-to guy on the team if you have questions?
FS: "I've got my stallmate, (junior defenseman and assistant captain) Jake Gardiner, who sits beside me in the locker room. I always ask him a lot of questions. My (road) roommate, (senior defenseman) Craig Johnson, I ask him a lot, too. Really, though, anybody on the team is approachable. All the older guys are willing to help out the freshmen. We've got a lot of great guys who'll help us out.''