Limoges, Printz Lean On College Experience To Prep For First Full Professional SeasonsSep 3, 2021
By Andy Zilch/SanDiegoGulls.com
Homework, pop quizzes and tests are topics that are relevant to schooling, but can be applied to the world of sports as well. Recent college departures Alex Limoges and Greg Printz can attest to this both academically and athletically over 2020 and 2021. Each one completed their four-year collegiate stint and entered the professional hockey world in the spring of 2021, using the tools the universities gave them to enter the road that lies ahead.
Each player received a crash course on professional hockey, jumping right into the mix following the conclusion of their NCAA hockey season. Limoges saw his season with Penn State end on March 15 and, just 11 days later, he debuted with the San Diego Gulls. Printz had a larger window in between his first pro appearance, having 23 days separate his college season with Providence College and his first game with the Gulls. Regardless of the window, each player’s first appearance could be considered a pop quiz to the pro ranks, with very little time to mentally prepare.
For Limoges, his initial week was productive by posting four assists in his first three games. The 23-year-old settled in with the Gulls and finished the season with an outburst of offense where he totaled 10-5=15 points and a plus-8 rating in the last 12 games. Overall, the Winchester, Virginia native tallied 11-10=21 points and a plus-13 rating in 23 games. With that production, it seems like the young forward aced his initial test with the Gulls.
“It was a lot of anticipation for my final year of college,” Limoges said. “I started off pretty slow but finished strong and when it was my time to come to San Diego - how everything happened so quickly - I thought that I could use that momentum and not think about the craziness behind hockey and just go out there and play. A lot of that goes to the environment with the Gulls. It is very welcoming and ‘don’t worry about making mistakes, just go out and play your game.’ I think that helped my transition to pro very much.”
Printz had different responsibilities when he joined the Gulls. The forward began skating on the fourth line to learn the Gulls defensive structure and physical presence expected from that role. Printz also rose to the first line, skating with the likes of Sam Carrick, where he contributed offensively. The 23-year-old totaled 1-2=3 points in 13 games with the Gulls and answered every challenge that the coaching staff asked of him.
“It was a perfect introduction for me and nice to get that taste in only 13 games,” Printz commented. “It was hard to find my role per se because it was 13 games, and I was juggling around on lines and on-and-off of special teams. But it was good to give the coaches and management a wide variety of my versatility so they could slot me in the correct position for this upcoming season.”
Printz hails from Fairfax, Virginia which makes the story of these two players even more intriguing. The two grew up nearly an hour away from each other, but Limoges was born a year earlier, meaning it took several years before the two could begin competing with or against each other. Despite knowing who one other was, it took the Gulls to bring the duo together.
“Alex is actually a year older than I am, I think we met when we were 9 or 10 years old just skating around the rinks,” said Printz. “He was always at tryouts on the older team and I was always on the younger team. Then we went our separate ways but we both ended up at South Kent School for prep school for two years. We were friends but we weren’t super close and then we went off to college. We started training together our junior year but this year coming up will be the first full season we will be on a team together, so that is pretty exciting for the both of us. We’ve known each other for a while but we finally get to play together.”
What you don’t see on the ice is the homework that was completed by each player. Learning the pro game takes knowledge on, and most importantly, off the ice. This related to the individual’s diet, workout regimen and mindset. All completely different than the college level because now it is their job. Obviously, strong practices are grouped into the homework element as well. This is especially effective when the two worked together with skill coaches on non-game days. Now, they carry that into the offseason.
“We’ve been training together at Ben Prentiss in Stamford, Connecticut and this is my third summer here,” Limoges stated. “I’ve really noticed a lot of growth ever since I’ve been here. They are very into the science and have great reasonings behind every movement we do and every workout. It’s been worth it and exactly what I needed. I’ve been living with Greg for the past three summers so it’s fun to have a friend on the team so close.”
The introductory course is over and the 2021-22 season will bring a full year experience to the two with tests neither have endured. A complete 68-game schedule is unfamiliar to both, and consistency will be needed to succeed. No more pop quizzes will be had, and they know the schedule and what needs to be done. The homework, however, is an ongoing process that each player is studying hard for. This isn’t only for themselves but for their families, previous coaches, mentors and the Virginia hockey community.