Q&A: Christian Sarlo, RPI Recruit

Christian Sarlo was born in New York and played most of his youth hockey in New Jersey for the North Jersey Avalanche. After splitting last year between the T1EHL and the AYHL, he also spent a game with the Islanders Hockey Club. He recently committed to RPI, where he plans on matriculating in 2020.

Neutral Zone: How and when did you start playing hockey?

Christian Sarlo: I started playing hockey when I was five years old in a house league. My dad and brother both really got me into it.

NZ: What’s your earliest memory from playing hockey?

CS: I remember the tournaments with my team where we would do barbecues and play mini hockey and manhunt. Some of the best times at those tournaments were at the hotel.

NZ: What was your youth hockey experience like?

CS: My youth hockey experience has been fun. I’ve bounced around a few teams and played in Long Island, Connecticut and now in New Jersey. I’ve had a great experience everywhere I’ve been.

NZ: Take us through the NCAA recruitment process. What other schools were you talking to and where did you visit?

CS: The recruiting process was fun. I had talked to a number of schools throughout the year and started visiting once the season ended. Following national camp, I visited RPI and Merrimack. My decision ultimately came down to the two of them. Merrimack was a great school, but I felt RPI was the better fit for me.

NZ: What made you decide to commit to RPI? What went into that decision for you and your family to know it was the right place? 

CS: There were a couple of big factors. I wanted somewhere that had a strong balance for hockey and academics, and I felt like RPI was a perfect fit for that. They have a great reputation academically. The hockey program is onto something special, and it’s a process I want to be a part of. I felt that the coaching staff has a lot of faith in me and I really believe in them. I want to help turn this program back into one of the best in the country.

NZ: What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s given you in hockey?

CS: The best piece of advice I’ve heard is greatness is a choice. I really believe that when you wake up you’re either getting better or getting worse. Putting in the work will yield the results you want.

NZ: What are your best on-ice skills?

CS: My best on-ice skills are probably my shot and vision. I like to take a lot of pride in my passing but I also like to fire the puck. I play a heavy puck possession game.

NZ: What aspect of your game are you working on improving the most?

CS: I am really working on my skating. The game only gets faster and you need to be able to keep up. Foot speed, acceleration, north-south, east-west. All of it can get better, and that’s what I’m really trying to improve.

NZ: Is there a professional player you model your game after?

CS: Two guys I really like are Ryan Getzlaf and Jamie Benn. I like Getzlaf because of his leadership and vision. I think he is not talked about enough. Jamie Benn is a great power forward who can bury the puck. I like watching them both because they are power forwards who use their size and skill set.

NZ: Who’s been the biggest influence in your hockey career?

CS: My dad and brother have both been huge influences. My dad pushes me to be better all the time. He is more of a vocal influence in my hockey career. My brother definitely leads more by example for me. I see how hard he works out and trains on the ice, and it makes me want to be better.

NZ: What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?

CS: The toughest challenge I’ve faced in hockey is when I had a little time period a few years ago where I wasn’t sure if hockey was something I wanted to take seriously. It’s obviously a huge commitment and I was debating between playing for fun or doing it seriously. I ultimately decided to take it seriously, and I’m really happy I did. It’s a lot more fun to me working towards goals I set and reaching them.

NZ: What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced in life?

CS: The hardest challenge I’ve faced in my life is probably when my grandma died. A lot of people in my family were really close with her and it really affected all of us. We had to get through it together as a family and I think we bonded a lot more because of it. Getting to play in the cancer game against South Kent this year and having her name on my jersey was really special.