As I sat on my couch last night, watching hockey with the room lit only by the glare from the TV and the lights from the Christmas tree, I realised something. I have been extremely fortunate. I have grown up during a time when winters were still winters and we had white Christmases. OK, in my older age, I might complain about the cold and how it gets to all my operated joints, but as a kid, there was nothing better than winter and the anticipation when the school’s tennis courts, football pitches would don rinks and ice.

Usually, we got to get our first outdoor skating sessions in November. There is some hockey romanticism in that, but what I find sad is that many kids don’t get to experience that now-a-days. OK I live abroad from my native and here a white Christmas would cause more chaos than something that would be revered. But my son might never get to experience what I grew up with and that is quite sad.

 

To me, when I played hockey outdoors on those school rinks, it was hockey at its purest. There was no competition, no outward pressures, there were no hard feelings after a loss. It was a way that kids came together. Guys from  high-school would play with kids from middle school and anyone who was at the rink with a pair of skates and a stick and wanted to play. There was no them and us. It was just pure.

 

Even though today, if I went back, then wind chill would probably be blistering on my face, but then again, most Christmases that I have spent at home, they have been what they are here. In almost seventeen years abroad, I have had two white Christmases in Finland, and during one of those I had the opportunity to play outdoors. Last Christmas was a white one, but it only started to snow day before Christmas eve, with no chance to get a rink going.

 

Thanks to global warming, winters now come much later as well as summers. What I knew as winter would start at the end of October and would extend all the way to March, while summer was definitely in by June. Now you’re lucky if your summer vacation will see any sun as the summer doesn’t tend to arrive until much later.

 

Hopefully, one day, I can take my kids back and play with them outdoors under the starlit skies, without a care in the world and that the only thing that matters is the puck and skating.

 

I love playing proper league hockey, but I miss those days from my youth when there was nothing better than to grab your skates, stick and pucks and cycle to the rink and spend the best part of your evening playing hockey.

Dealing with the Injury Ninja

Posted: December 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

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This post was first going to be extolling the virtues of pushing through the pain barrier and playing through pain. However, it would feel remiss to publish that post as it was, because the injury I tried to play though has sidelined me until the new year. So my 2015 side of the 2015-2016 hockey season ended in November after a game on the Isle of Wight.

 

A week later we were due to play Basingstoke Buffalo, and where I had already struggled with the injury through the week I went training, but by the end, I had to ask team mates to help me get my skates off. I was still convinced I could play, but instead of finding myself going through my normal pre-game routines, I found myself at the emergency department, with no feeling in my left leg and a whole host of other symptoms that pointed toward a serious condition. Luckily it wasn’t the more serious, life altering condition, but none the less, the pain was real and debilitating.

After getting the painkillers from the doctors I thought, right, I can take these and play through it. Obviously this lead to an argument at home and usually my wife doesn’t win too many of the sports related ones where I want to play even if I’m in pain, but she won this one. She told me that I could play if I could put my skates on without wincing in pain. I couldn’t even bend down to do my laces.

So yeah, I’ve missed altogether 3 games, and the time between the last game I played and the first potential one is going to be approximately 8 weeks.

 

Even on work front, I was being told to take it easy and rest to get myself to get back to full fitness quicker, but being a bone head, I was happily hammering my head against a concrete wall, not wanting to give up. But in the end, I had to admit defeat.

 

So why do this? Why fight against the injury you know will not allow you to play?

 

It is difficult to explain, but the best way I can explain it is that I am willing to do whatever it takes to help my team win. I believe that when I have signed for a team and pull on the jersey, my body and every ounce of my being belongs to the team and I need to be there to help them win. Help the team battle, to show my team mates that I will not be defeated, to show everyone that I will not give up and nothing will stop me. I approach work with the same mentality. With me, its all or nothing.

 

Having to call the coach or my manager and tell them that I can’t play or make it to work is gut wrenching. I feel like I am letting everyone down and that I have revealed a weakness in my armor, a weakness in my body that I have built to withstand hits and the rigors of the game.

 

So having now “admitted defeat” I am actively trying to work myself back into full fitness so that I can be of use to my teams (hockey and work). On the sports front I have told my physio that I want to be pain free before Christmas – that’s next week at the time of writing this. I’ve told them that I will do everything, I will work harder than any one else. I am determined that I will get the all clear by then. Even if it means that I am doing something extra to make sure that I am ahead of the curve.

 

Additionally, where I can’t do any heavy lifting due to the injury, I am still trying to make use of the time and work on areas that I can. When I was recovering from my shoulder surgery, I was working on my legs. I looked at the injury from the point of view that even if I had my arm in a sling for six weeks, it didn’t mean I could just sit on my fat ass for six weeks. My legs still worked so I could at least make sure that my legs were going to be in good shape and my endurance level would be right up there.

 

With this injury I’m working on grip strength to try and build a bit more power into my shooting. I’ve found that where I am getting into scoring and shooting areas, my shot strength hasn’t been the best so if I can use the injury to improve on that area, then it is not time completely wasted. Yes, I’d rather be skating and working, but I need to accept the fact that at the moment I can’t. Truth be told, I should have put my hand up earlier, but being a jerk, I played through it.

 

What of the games I have played so far? I think they’ve gone well. Even though the points haven’t been coming in thick and fast, I think I’ve performed consistently and always brought 100% and left everything on the ice. I think I’ve been more physical this season than in the past few years and I feel that it has provided some more energy. I still want to push for more though. I’m not satisfied with what I’ve done so far. Progress ends in satisfaction, so I will keep working. Not giving up or letting up in training or in games.

 

I will hit the ice in 2016 with a vengeance, both in training and games. By the time I get back on the ice, I have had a long break so I will be fresh and ready to do whatever it takes to win.

 

WHAT EVER IT TAKES!


Pic1I’ve often been asked in interviews (the rare few I’ve done) of who are the players I look up-to. It is always a difficult one to answer, and usually my stock answer has been Jari Kurri, as he was the player I looked up to growing up.

Of late and the more my style of play has evolved and developed there are a number of players whose style I admire and try to model myself after. Yes, I still admire and take inspiration from the likes of Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne, Martin St. Louis and so on. But if I was asked which player most personifies the type of player that I would like to see myself as, I can now give a more defined answer.

Pic2As my style of play is team centric and (of-late) on the energy side, I take my ques from players like Jarkko Ruutu, Leo Komarov, Ville Nieminen, Scott Hartnell, Dale Weise and so on. You could say that the players I try to model myself after are more on the ‘blue-collar’ side of things and where they might not be the real superstars of the game, they are the types that are often the unsung heroes and the underdogs on a team.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love scoring goals. Who doesn’t, but I have identified that I liken myself more to the likes of Ruutu and Komarov. Ruutu may have been considered a pest during his career, but I have nothing but respect for him and his work ethic. Here’s a guy that put everything on the line for his dream to play in the pros and did everything in his power every night to help his team win. He battled adversity and mentally tough battles of low ice time for years. Not only do I admire Jarkko Ruutu’s mental toughness, but he is a very, VERY smart guy and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he became involved in hockey in a coaching or front office capacity. He is a hockey-smart guy who was able to read the flow of the game maybe better than anyone else. Maybe it was because of his reputation in the rink that he had to be aware of who was out there with him and who was likely to take his head off.

Pic3I mostly watched Ruutu and Komarov in the Finnish national team and the games I’ve watched them play in the NHL were/are entertaining. Both players always put their bodies on the line and try to help their teams win. OK I’m not as physical as Ruutu and neither do I fight (my career stats are 0-3 for fights) but what I do look to bring to the game is my everything. Every game I suit up for and every shift I play, I give 100% and try and do the things that help out my team. I take great pride in creating offensive buzz but at the same time I’m equally pleased if my line doesn’t get scored on. If it means that I have to play a shadow to a player all night or that I hustle up and down the ice a few times, that is fine by me. As long as my presence and my actions on the ice help contribute to a greater cause.

Yes, I would love to put up points and to a greater extent I try to do that every time I’m out there, but sometimes you end up just creating the pressure and other lines capitalise on it, or you end up bagging yourself trying to get the puck out of your zone on a PK, but y’know what, there’s a certain romanticism in that. In both situations, I can look at it and say “we were able to do that because of what my line did” and give myself (and linemates) a pat on the back and then it’s focussing on the next shift.

You might say that guys like Ruutu, Komarov, Hartnell etc aren’t the most skilled players on the planet, but one thing you can’t put a measure on is heart. To me guys like that so important to a team because of the work ethic and work they do on the ice.

pic4It’s easy to say that you look up to guys like Ovechkin, Crosby, McKinnon etc. They are superstars and super skilled. Yes they all do have heart, but for me, I find that there’s more intrigue and so many nuances to the likes of Hartnell and what they bring to the table with their skill set. It’s guys like that who enable the work that the superstars do.

So to answer the question of what player I look up to and if I could have the skill set of any player who would it be? A) I think Leo Komarov tops the list of active players and B) If I could have the combined skill set of the Habs’ line of Weise – Desharnais – Fleischman, I would be over the moon with that.

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There’s a common conception among people that hockey players are wild party animals. To an extent we are. You might’ve heard the stories of the Bruins’ epic Stanley Cup party bar tap, or other legendary tales from within the game. Or just recently how the NHL has a rising number of players allegedly using cocaine. For me, having a good time is part of the game, but for me, the parties are more or less a thing of the past.  Boring old fart? Let me explain this

I’m not saying I’m teetotal, or that I don’t drink at all during the season. I usually have a beer after the game in the pub, but I very rarely get to a stage where I would be classed as drunk. For me, hockey is about setting guidelines and being disciplined in your day-to-day life, both in-season and off-season. Perhaps that is what fascinates me in the game so much – the personal discipline that is required. I usually schedule four times into the year when I allow myself to let loose a little bit; Cup Final (providing we win), Conference championship, Play-off championship (Providing we win) and end of season party. Last season I let loose three times out of the four. Anything else to me is excess and one thing I’m trying to cut out is excess. Of any kind. If we don’t achieve any of the big wins, then there’s no partying either. 

I’m all for blowing out a little steam. We all need to do it and it is a very human thing to do. Some people like to go out, some people like to relax at home, go to the cinema and so forth. For me, going out during the season, or the reason why I go out so rarely is a conscious decision that has reasons behind it.  

blog1The first one is that if I go out, I know I will miss a workout that I have scheduled for that day and invariably, the day after will be a total write off too. If we didn’t take into account the above criterion when I allow myself to let loose and assuming that you go out every week it would mean that I would miss 104 workouts per year. That is 104 chances of making yourself a better player and a better person through hard work. In those 104 days, someone else will be pounding the streets and lifting the weight that I should be lifting to get better, stronger and faster. I would cheat myself and my team if I allowed myself to slack that much during the year.

Second reason is that I enjoy having clarity of thought. When I was straight edge, it was one of the things that I really enjoyed was that my thinking wasn’t cloudy (or impaired) and that I could rationalise all my actions to myself and be accountable for what I did and didn’t do. Now, if I for some reason skip a workout, that is on me and trust me, it will eat away at me like it does when we lose a game. No matter how well I reason the decision to myself, be it an injury or if I just need to sleep. Being hungover or drunk is a piss poor excuse to me. Sure you could train hungover, but the quality of your work output would be so diminished you might as well not do it.

Thirdly, like I mentioned, I’m trying to cut out excess and drinking would – in my mind – ruin the work that I have already done Blog2during the week. Hangover is a state, where effectively, your body eats itself as it is trying to get rid of all the toxins. That’s not to say that I only eat kale and that my body is chiselled from stone. Far fucking from it. I’m a human being, not an antique Greek god statue.

Fourth reason being – and I’m going to be showing my age here – I just do not see the point of going out. When I was a teenager and through university, I partied… I partied hard. I think I got all the ‘crazy’ out of my system.

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Photo courtesy of Flyfifer Photography.


Fifth reason is that I simply cannot cope with my hangovers. They are brutal and they last for days. After the end of season party, it took me three days to feel ‘normal’ again.

Hockey is a sport where nothing is given to you. You need to take everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. You need to be able to take possession of the puck by checking opponents, you need to create space for yourself and your line mates, you need to be able to take space away from opponents, you need to take your place in the roster and so on. The only way to do that is to be in good enough condition strength and fitness wise that you are able to take everything that is needed. Nothing is given to you and it is therefore so important that you are able to put in the work off the ice, so that life on the ice is that much easier.

This is in no way saying that everyone should adhere to my school of thought. Because that is what it is. It is my school of thought and I’m not going to be pressing my views on anyone else to say that “this is the way you should do things”. I’m not judging guys who go out (except if they turn up drunk or hungover for a game). It is a way that works for me and what I have found gives me the greatest focus. It is frustrating as hell sometimes and there are times that I just want to grab the bottle and drink it all away, but then, I tell myself that I’m being a fucking idiot.

Your shelf life as an athlete – and especially as a hockey player – is limited. Your career could end every time you step on the ice. The way I look at it, I want to enjoy every minute of the game and when – inevitably – the time comes to walk away from the game, I can look back and look at myself in the mirror that I did everything I could. I pushed myself above and beyond my limits and I left it all on the ice. No compromises.

I only wish that I would’ve realised all of this when I was younger, but I am happy that I HAVE realised it. This journey in hockey, fitness and self discovery has been truly amazing and long may it continue.

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Review: TRUE X-Core 9 stick

Posted: September 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

Xcore4It is no secret that when we tested the TRUE Hockey (True) A 6.0 and A 5.2 sticks that we absolutely fell in love with them. Everyone we have since showed the stick to and let them – begrudgingly – have a go with them has been equally impressed. Further testament to True’s capability within the stick market came recently when the True A 6.0 won stick of the year award from Modsquad Hockey.

So what then of the new X-Core 9? It would be unfair to do a direct comparison with the top-of-the-range A-series sticks as the X-Core 9 is a beast of its own. While it still uses a lot of the same manufacturing methods and technologies as the A-series of sticks, we place the X-Core in a category of its own.

Out of the wrappers the X-Core  9 has had a bit of a ‘facelift’ when it comes to branding. The True branding is more visible than on the A-series, but the stick still retains its rather minimalistic, but cool, design. The stick is mainly carbon black with cool little design touches in the grip coating and the electric blue elements of the stick definitely add to the cool exterior design of the twig.

The real beauty of the X-Core 9 is in the manufacturing of the stick and in the technology. The biggest change is in the blade of the X-Core. The blade now includes a urethane insert, which has been designed to reduce puck wobble when shooting, but in truth it does so much more for the overall performance of the stick, but more on that later.

First impressions:

Out of the wrappers the X-Core 9 gives you a stick that is equal to the build quality of the A series. It is light weight and despite a urethane insert in the blade, the stick does not feel too ‘bottom heavy’. It is equally balanced and more than holds its own against Xcore3other manufacturers who have made a big play about the perfectly balanced stick.

When used with a stick handling ball, the stick is really responsive and you can feel how each touch of the ball is fed through from the blade to the hands. With this in mind we were excited to be taking the stick to the ice for the first time. The feel for the puck is on-par, if not slightly better than on the top end A-series sticks, but it is in shooting and passing that the Xcore 9 really shows what it is made of.

In terms of puck feel True sticks are in the same category with Sher-Wood. These two manufacturer’s have the best feeling composite sticks in the market at the moment.

Shooting:

We have all had it happen and we laugh at our teammates when the puck just wobbles off the blade after what looks like an otherwise strong shot. This is due to the puck bouncing on and off of the blade of a stick during a shot. This causes less spin on the puck and as a result the puck wobbles and the shooter makes the goalie look really hot. Basically, the more spin you are able to get on the puck, the crisper and harder the shot.

As mentioned, the X-core features a urethane insert, placed strategically along the area of the blade that generates the most spin and where True found that most on-and-off contact with the puck occurred. This means the blade is dampened that True claims produces 30% more spin on the shots compared to other sticks on the market.

The blade doesn’t just feature the urethane insert, but a wholly new rib pattern as well to boost durability and stiffness to the blade. As already mentioned, the changes made to the blade have not sacrificed the puck feel that we fell in love with in the A-series.

When we first took a couple of shots with the X-core, we thought that it had to be some kind of a fluke. All the shots came off really crisp and headed for the upper areas of the net. The shots seemed ‘harder’ than before as well. However, after consistently testing it, the stick really does make a huge difference in your shots. It is quite simply, the best stick we have ever shot a puck with.

What of the passes then? Similar to shooting. The X-core provides an un-matched level of crispness to your passes. Not that we would ever do this in a game, as the coach would have us riding the pine, but you can comfortably make rink wide passes with the X-core and make it look and feel easy. Receiving passes has been easier as well with the X-core in comparison with some of the other big names out there. The puck doesn’t seem to bounce off the blade as much and the stick is a joy to use in give-and-go situations and in front of the net when you need a quick touch and quick release.

Flex:

Xcore1True to True’s A-series sticks, the X-core features True’s SmartFlex flex profile, even if the X-core comes with a slightly higher kick-point than the A6.0. The SmartFlex makes the stick easy to load for wrist, snap and slapshots. The stick really lets you know where the puck is on the blade and it is so essential to have this feedback when taking shots. Additionally, we have noticed that the stick performs really well in-close situations in front of the net, or when you are going to bury that give-and-go pass.

The X-Core 9 really does perform well on every type of shot and gives you that crisp feel for each of them. In a sentence: This stick is simply damn good!

The bad:

Now that we’ve told you what is good about the stick, then there’s  the bad: Literally, the only thing that we can cite as bad is that the X-Core will set you back by approximately $300, which makes it one of the more expensive sticks on the market. BUT you do get a lot of stick for that money. And from a quality point of view, you can be sure that you are making a sound investment into a stick that has been manufactured well. 

However, we’re sure that the clever guys at TRUE will be making the X-Core technology into a wider series of sticks.

Conclusion:

If you are serious about your hockey and want the best performing stick in the market, the True X-core 9 is the way to go. The stick Xcore2brings together some of the most innovative technologies in the market today and the performance is second to none. We would not be the least bit surprised if the X-core walked away with few other “Stick of the Year” awards from various hockey boards and bodies. Simply put, the True X-core 9 is the best stick that we have ever tested and played with. True has raised the bar significantly over the A-Series of sticks and we are confident that the X-core will establish True as one of the premier stick manufacturers in the hockey market this year and would be willing to bet that loyalists to other brands would be making the shift to X-core once they have tried it out.

Why we play?

Posted: August 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

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I think that I have touched on this topic several times across several posts. I have tried to think about what drives me to still play the game and what it is that keeps me so enthralled with it, to the point that it consumes vast amounts of my time.

When you think about the reason why hockey players anywhere play the game, the answer could be a simple “for the love of the game”, but for me the reason I play and why hockey is such an amazing sport comes down to,  yes the love of the game, but also to what goes into it.

On the surface, hockey might seem like a simple game to the seasoned fan, but underneath the surface there is so much more to it. There’s the conditioning, the games, the positional play, the different roles, the physicality and most importantly, how a group of guys come together to play for the crest on their jerseys.

I often thought that I could get by in hockey with just my (limited) skills and that would be that. It wasn’t until I got older that I understood the importance of conditioning and started to take the summers more seriously, as opposed to go into total R&R mode and drinking beer till the early hours of the morning. Nowadays, it is a miracle if I get drunk once during the summer (I usually allow myself to go all out for the end of season party, after that, it is all business). I constantly try and look for ways to improve my physique that allows me to be a better player.

We all know that hockey is a time consuming sport and it is expensive. I may not play in the highest echelons of the game, but I play in a competitive league that keeps getting better and better. After my wedding in 2008, I made the decision that I wanted to give hockey another go. I had been playing recreational hockey and university leagues, but I wanted more. I wanted to compete and win championships in a league that was established. To do that I had to make huge financial sacrifices. I paid out my International Transfer out of my own pocket and that wasn’t cheap, but I wanted to do it because it would show a team that I was committed to playing for them and that I was there to take it seriously. Also, at the time, I had been out of league hockey for good number of years, so a lot of teams weren’t necessarily impressed with my numbers from rec or university. Plus I missed a lot of try-outs and such because I had knee surgery about 8 weeks before the season started.

I was out there to prove that I could play. I travelled a 120 mile round trip to trainings and home games and I never thought it was a chore or too much. I was, after all, chasing my dream. I didn’t mind the fact that usually on a Friday I was beat or that after a weekend of games, my body ached. I knew that after the games I couldn’t sit still and on Mondays, I was down at the gym trying to get better and push myself.

I have lost count on the money spent on petrol, food, equipment, supplements etc. To be honest, that amount probably could’ve paid for a nice holiday somewhere exotic. To be honest, I have far better memories from the game than I would do from the holiday. Hockey, to me, is all about the journey and no holiday in Australia or a round the world cruise, could give me as much as hockey does. With hockey, there are new memories created every time you hit the ice or get into the locker room. And then there are the lessons.

The other reason why I play is because hockey teaches you lessons you will not learn anywhere else. Or you do, but not as quickly as you do in hockey. The game teaches you to be humble. If you get too flashy or cocky, there will be a guy in the game to put you back in your place. You learn about teamwork and how you put your differences aside to pursue a joint dream. There are the lessons learnt from tough losing streaks, personal droughts, wins and what you need to do to maintain momentum. It teaches you so much of life and that’s not even as a pro in the NHL. These values and lessons are engrained in you as a junior. It teaches you work ethic. You want to be the best in the game and in the locker room. You want to show that you are the guy that works his bags off every single shift. It can inspire other guys to push themselves in similar ways.

Most importantly, hockey teaches you hard work. If you want to succeed, you need to work hard. My coach says that just like in a day-job, if you want to succeed, you have to put the work in. Same in hockey. You can’t get by on the ice by slacking, you need to work hard on and off the ice to really make a difference. That same work ethic is instilled into any profession that you do outside of the game.

Hockey also teaches you about respect. You need to respect your opponents, coaches and teammates. Sure you might not see eye-to-eye with people, but you respect their views and you work with them for the betterment of the team and yourself as a person.

So why do I play? Yes for the love of the game, but also because you can’t experience anything like the hockey

Photo courtesy of Pete Fears

Photo courtesy of Pete Fears

camaraderie anywhere else. Having the success and winning the title is the single most amazing thing that you can experience. No matter what league you play in, the thought of being a champion is amazing and yet something that very few get to experience. I’m humbled to have experienced it, not once, not twice, but three times in my career. Each of them is special and I cherish those memories. It is for memories like that, that make all the financial, personal and physical sacrifices worth it.


Summer is a state of mind. On holiday in Finland

Summer is a state of mind. On holiday in Finland

What a manic couple of weeks. I’ve finally had a chance to relax and unwind a little bit whilst holidaying in Finland and then next week somewhere in the South of France.

So, a couple of updates:

In case you hadn’t seen on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram, I have signed for the Bristol Pitbulls for another season, which will be my sixth with the team. Additionally, I have a sponsorship agreement in place with the guys from Cross Check Clothing, so I thought that it would be pertinent for me to give a little bit of insight into my decision and the sponsorship agreement.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I had toyed with the idea of going out on the top and after winning, but after a week of resting on my laurels and getting on the ice relatively early, I felt that I still had loads to give and plenty of miles left in the engine. I think physically, I am way ahead of where I was last year, or even the year before, so the base carrying on was definitely there. Even if I had those thoughts, rest assured, my decision to carry on playing is not going to be for just giggles. I still want to compete and most of all I still want to win. If I wanted to play for fun, I wouldn’t have signed at this level.

When I got word from Richie asking me about my plans, it was an easy decision in at the end. I think my words were “I’m in..”

Back for more with the Pitbulls, this time in partnership with Cross Check Clothing

Back for more with the Pitbulls, this time in partnership with Cross Check Clothing

The Pitbulls have given me a lot in this game and I consider myself fortunate to be playing for the same team that gave me a shot for the sixth season. Usually players move around and drop off the map, but I feel lucky to carry on playing for the team I signed way back when. There’ s a further back story to this, but I will let you know about that if that goal is reached

One of the main reasons why I wanted to sign with the Pitbulls again was the atmosphere in the club. I’m not talking about the locker room atmosphere, but the way the fans interact with us and the invaluable work all the people working behind the scenes to make the team possible. Given the circumstances that we play under, there is this underlying ‘punk DIY’ feel to it, which is cool. The easy option for the owners would have been to fold, but they’ve kept going and together, we have some amazing memories and stories to share in the years to come.

The second reason, I was that I keep getting challenged by the coaches. I think since joining the team, I have developed as a player and as a result I’ve become a more versatile on the ice. I know I’m not the flashiest guy out there, but when I get something that I need to do, I’ll go and do it. To me, it’s all about making sure that we succeed as a team and that everything I do on the ice helps us win games.

In the years I’ve been with the team, I’ve obviously made friends in and outside the locker room, and so has my family. The team has embraced my family in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined. I feel fortunate that I got to share some of the most amazing moments of my career with them. But it’s not just my family. I feel that the whole team and the fans are part of one big family and seeing the amount of support we have, no matter where we turn up to play, it’s just indescribable. Like I said in the post where I was looking at the game from the fans’ point of view. To see how the fans live with the team vicariously through every triumph and through every low is truly special.

What of my own personal goals? I said that to me, the number of goals I score don’t really matter. Where yes, I love to score goals and I’d love to be able to be a point per game type of player, to me it is more important that the team succeeds and that everything I do, helps us push for the titles again and bring home more silverware. Eveything that I do on and off the ice must help the team and help us succeed.

The only ‘goal’ I’ve set, is to push to become a top-6 forward on the team. I’ve trained hard the summer and feel like I’ve got the fitness and the stamina to log big minutes.

Holiday leg day action in Finland. #TEAMCROSSCHECK

Holiday leg day action in Finland. #TEAMCROSSCHECK

The partnership with Cross Check Clothing: I’ve been a fan of Cross Check Clothing for a few years and have their shirts in my wardrobe already. The guys have created a brand of clothing that really encapsulates the hockey lifestyle, whether you’re a fan or a player. Where there are maybe a few brands that do a similar thing, but Cross Check Clothing have taken a different stance to it and I’m proud to be able to spread the word further this season. I like to call it a partnership as I really want to help expose the brand to a wider audience. For me, it is important to work with people and products I believe in, and I believe in what Cross Check Clothing are doing and what they are creating.

You can take a look at the gear from Cross Check Clothing at: http://shop.crosscheckclothing.co.uk/