Nathan Sucese’s 2022-23 season began when Wolves general manager Wendell Young offered the 26-year-old forward a PTO (professional tryout contract) and ended with Sucese being one of the team’s most consistent players. Last month, Sucese signed an AHL contract to return to the Wolves for the ’23-24 season. In Part 2, Sucese discusses the aspect of his game that is often overlooked, his idols growing up, learning to play guitar and much more.
Do you have a personal highlight from last season?
“Those last 12 games when we went 9-2-1 was a highlight. Just being able to keep ourselves around and sweeping the last three games in three days, that doesn’t happen very often in this league.”
One of your new WOLVES teammates, TimOTHY Doherty, played at your alma mater Penn State. Are you familiar with him?
“He was there after I was but I’ve heard he is an unbelievable human. He is a guy who everyone loves and he is awesome in the locker room.”
What part of your game do you believe is overlooked a bit?
“Honestly, I think it’s my offensive ability and being able to make my teammates better. And the way that I score goals, I think is overlooked, being so small.
I’m pretty gritty in front of the net. I didn’t score a lot of goals outside of eight feet of the crease in college, and I haven’t scored many goals outside eight feet in pro. That’s something I do want to improve on as well. But just my goal-scoring and being able to make my linemates better and making plays in the o-zone.”
How do you take that next step and as you take these steps, is the goal still to play in the NHL?
“It’s always everyone’s dream, but I think I’ve come to the realization that with my age it might not happen. But if you have a good enough year, maybe someone picks you up on an NHL contract the next year.
I take it day by day and there’s always room to get better every single day. Being healthy is a huge thing that I take pride in as well. I’ve never had an injury—knock on wood—since my first year of Junior. I take pride in playing in every single game and just being available for the coaching staff, whether they want to put me in or not.”
Was it always hockey for you growing up in Fairport, N.Y.?
“That was the main thing, but I played soccer in high school. I also played lacrosse and then I played baseball up until freshman year. It kind of got to the point where I needed to make a decision, so hockey was it.”
Who were your idols during that time?
“My mom (Sally) and dad (John) and my brother (Jonathan). My brother is five years older and he definitely paved the way for me.
I got to watch him play D-III competitively and he went to the Frozen Four. He’s someone who I really looked up to and my dad also played college hockey and was an All-American. So, those two really paved the way for me and neither of them forced anything on me. It was always, ‘do you want to do it?’ and that I think is the right way to go about it.
When I was a kid, 7, 8, 9, years old, I actually was the one who set the alarms in the morning for those early, early skates. And I always had to wake up my dad. So I think the thing of not forcing anything on children and making sure that they’re in something they want to do is something I really take pride in. And I thank my mom and my dad and my brother for that.”
What do you do when you’re not playing hockey?
“I’ve actually started to pick up the guitar a little bit. I play a lot of golf and then we’re fortunate enough that I have a lake house in the Finger Lakes and my fiancee’s parents have a lake house a little bit farther away.
Every other weekend we all alternate between parents and it’s worked out really well. It’s a great way to ease your mind and just kind of relax and get a lot of family time in during the summertime.”
What are you playing on your guitar?
“I’m trying to learn some country songs, but I’m in the early stages. I’m a couple months in, so just right now it’s a few chords and trying to put them all together.
Who are your favorite artists?
“I love Morgan Wallen and I love Luke Combs. I’m actually buddies with a guitarist and pianist in Morgan Wallen’s band and he’s the one who’s kind of been pushing me to play a little bit. It’s been an awesome experience being able to go see those guys play and be backstage a few times in the last couple of years so that’s kind of what gave me the itch.”
What do you like most about Chicago?
“There’s just so much to do. If you want be in the suburbs, you can live there. If you want to go downtown and see city lights, you can take the train and be there in 40 minutes.
And then also just the accessibility of it is awesome for family. Having a fiancee who doesn’t live with me all year and the fact there are direct flights every day from Rochester and home make for a good family-work life balance.”
For Part 1 of the conversation, go here.