For Part 1 with Jack Johnson, click here.
For Part 2 with R.J. Umberger, click here.
For Par 3 with Adam Burish, click here.
John-Michael Liles is a defenseman who played college hockey at Michigan State. In both his junior and senior seasons he led the Spartans in points with 35 (13 goals and 22 assists) and 50 (16 goals and 34 assists). He received the CCHA Best Offensive Defensemen Award both of those seasons and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award his senior year.
Liles is another college player who spent part of high school going to school in Ann Arbor and skating with the National Development Team. He was on Team USA’s 2006 Winter Olympic team, playing in all 6 games and recording 2 assists.
He’s in his 8th year in the league, his first with the Toronto Maple Leafs. His first seven years were spent with the Colorado Avalanche.
This year he has scored 3 goals and has 13 assists. He’s in tied for 4th on the team for total points with 16. Only Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Dion Phaneuf are ahead of him.
Why did you pick Michigan State?
Michigan State and Notre Dame were my final two choices. It ended up being more of a gut feeling. Michigan State just felt right. It felt like the place for me. That was the reason I went with it. When I had to make that choice, I needed to be objective. I really liked a number of things about the different schools. Michigan State for me, the hockey program spoke for itself. It was something that I really wanted to be a part of. It worked out pretty well.
What did you think of as life a student athlete?
It was awesome. I loved it. I had a great four years there; really great teammate, a great program. The school for me, I fit in pretty well. I got a degree in Finance, which was a big thing for me. I ended up after my first year of pro going back in the summers to finish up my degree.
What favorite college hockey memories do you have?
The Cold War was a huge one. It was a fun game to play in, that’s for sure. My sophomore year was a great year. We were number one all year and went to the Frozen Four that year. It was a great year in general. I played with a lot of pretty solid players.
You spent all 4 years at State, so you really got the entire college hockey experience from being the harassed freshman and then harassing the freshman as a senior?
I got the most out of my college hockey experience, that’s for sure. (laughs) I was part of both of those worlds!
What were some of your favorite Big Ten sports memories?
Some of my good buddies in school were basketball players. I got to see a bunch of great games when I was there; some good football games. It was a great sports school. I really enjoyed going to see a lot of different sports.
What are your thoughts on the new Big Ten Hockey Conference and changes in college hockey?
You look at what’s going on with football and the realignment with the conferences; I guess it was only a matter of time before it started happening to hockey. I think the donation that Penn State got to start a Division 1 hockey team and to build a rink; I think it’s fantastic anytime you can add programs into D1 hockey., especially one with the backing of Penn State behind it. I think it was only natural a Big Ten Hockey Conference ended up becoming a reality. Hopefully people will follow Penn State’s lead and there will be more.
Who would you like to see add a hockey program?
Being form Indiana, I guess I’m a little biased. I would love to see Indiana University have one. But then you’re looking at would the school support it and would it be something that they could draw fans to and be successful. That’s ultimately the bottom line.
How is your golf game?
Laughs. It’s alright. It’s in limbo right now because the seasons going on, but it was actually pretty decent this summer.
Thank you so much to John-Michael Liles for his time! Good luck this year!
Also, many thanks to Lisa for letting me use her photos. Check out here facebook page here.