GETTING TO KNOW AMERKS DEFENSEMAN ALEX BIEGANews | 3/14/2012 4:19:12 PM | Dan Peters
In just his second professional season, Rochester Americans defenseman Alex Biega continues to consistently exhibit the traits that prompted the Buffalo Sabres to select him with their fifth round pick (147th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
The 5-foot-11, 192 pound blueliner is not the only Biega who has played the sport at a high level, however, as his three younger brothers Michael (22), Danny (20), and Marc (17) laced up the skates at the same Prep School (The Salisbury School). Michael and Danny, too, played at Harvard University as well, with the latter being a 2010 third-round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes (67th overall).
We were able to catch up with Biega after the Amerks’ practice on Wednesday to gain a bit more insight into his background, both at and away from the rink.
Q: What is the most memorable hockey moment in your career so far?
Biega: At this point, two come to mind right away. One is winning a New England Championship in Prep School, the school’s first ever (in 2006). Also, my senior year of college playing with my two brothers was awesome.
Q: What was it like getting the chance to play at Harvard with two of your brothers for a year?
Biega: It was unexpected at first because obviously it’s tough to organize that to happen, but everything just fell through according to plan. We really enjoyed it, my parents came down to almost every game and it was just great. I had always played with my brother who is a year away (Michael), but playing with Danny who is a couple years younger than me was really special and a unique opportunity for our family.
Q: Was there ever any question as to whether you would pursue college hockey or follow the major junior path to the professional ranks?
Biega: I was actually drafted by Rimouski (of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) when (Sidney) Crosby was there and they went to the Memorial Cup that year, so it was a really tough decision. I am the eldest of my family and my three other brothers also play, so I didn’t have any guidance from someone who had been through that. It was really a gut decision. I liked the lifestyle, especially the coaching staff at Harvard, and in terms of development, I thought it was better for me to go the college route.
Q: How was your time at Harvard as a student-athlete?
Biega: It was a challenge some years, but like anything, you get used to the pace of the lifestyle. You obviously have to do some work here and there, but if you stay disciplined and get the job done, it’s really not that bad. I truly do believe that anyone could do it if they put their mind to it and stayed committed throughout the process because four years is a long time. I enjoyed everything about it and really tried to make the most of the experience both on and off the ice.
Q: As a rookie last season, were there any teammates in particular that helped you adapt to professional hockey, whether it was related to things on or off the ice?
Biega: We had a lot of great leadership and veterans last year in Portland. Colin Stuart is a great captain and definitely took the rookies under his wing and showed every guy how to be a professional. Also, Matt Ellis, who is now in Buffalo, was great at that too. The way those two guys carried themselves and their professionalism everyday is something that you can look at as a rookie and learn from.
Q: Which NHL team was your favorite growing up?
Biega: I guess I have to say I liked the Canadiens since I grew up in Montreal. It is electrifying watching a game in their building so it was a lot of fun and created a lot of good memories growing up.
Q: Are there any current players whom you try to pattern your game after?
Biega: I really like the way Stephane Robidas (of the Dallas Stars) plays. He does everything, is a competitive and physical guy, and just gets the job done in all different areas. I like him as a player a lot and try to pattern my game after him.
Q: If you weren’t playing hockey as a career, what would you be doing?
Biega: I have no idea, because honestly I can’t really picture myself doing anything else. I grew up with hockey in my life and I definitely want to stay in the game somehow.
Q: What different types of hobbies do you have away from the rink?
Biega: I watch a lot of movies and enjoy reading a lot. When I am away from the rink, I try to get my mind off hockey and do some other things, whether it be investing in the stock market or researching different things in that regard. Keeping up with stocks and what is going on with the economy intrigues me so I try to read up on that as much as possible.
Q: Do you have a favorite TV show and book?
Biega: I am a big Family Guy fan so my roommates and I usually watch that every night and crush some episodes before bed. I can’t really pick out one book, but I have been trying to read different mental preparation books because those are all useful for playing hockey.