Oh The Places We Go…

My hockey career over the years has provided me with many unique opportunities and experiences. A number of years ago I had the opportunity to move away from home for a year to pursue my passion. My move would be from Nobleton, Ontario, Canada to Wenatchee, Washington. From one side of Canada to the other side of the United States to play for the Wenatchee Wild hockey team in the North American Hockey League. When players from far away come to play for a hockey team they are set up with a “Billet Family”.These families welcome players, that they know nothing about, into their homes for the hockey season, providing food, housing and the chance to be a part of their family. Billet families play a vital role in the success of the player on the ice. If I wasn’t satisfied at home, it would affect my play on the ice. The Billet Family became my second family and the relationships that I built with them will be remembered for the rest of my life.Flag_of_Canada.svg

This was my first time living away from home, without the in person contact of my parents and my brother along with the comfort of my home that I had grown up in for the prior 20 years. While I was certainly nervous for this chapter of my life, there was a part of me that was excited to take a big step, and try something I had never done before. I was extremely lucky to be put with a billet family that almost felt like home. They took me in as one of their own family members and treated me like I was not just a random kid from a different country.

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The family consisted of a mother, a father, 3 sons from the ages of 6 to 12 and 2 very energetic dogs. Even though I was at the hockey rink for 4 hours each day, I was required to pull my weight around the house just as they would expect their own sons to clean up after themselves while helping out with yard work and other daily chores. I understood that they were letting me live with them out of the kindness of their hearts and I wanted to help make their lives easier in anyway that I could. Whether that meant feeding the dogs while they were at work, picking up my billet brothers from school, or starting to make dinner for the family before they got home.

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This experience was an incredible way for me to mature as a hockey player as well as a person while becoming more independent and less reliable on the constant comfort of my home in Canada.

The time I spent with my billet family was a year I will never forget. The relationships made with the entire family will be life long.

Next week I’ll talk about the life long friendships that I have made over the many years of playing hockey!

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On The Road Again…

Many people do not really know what goes on behind the scenes of a hockey game, they just see the final product as 2 teams playing the game they love while putting their body on the line for each of their teammates. Little do the fans know, one of the teams had to travel across the country the day prior, while sleeping on the floor of a bus with likely a couple feet in close proximity to his face. While these trips just mean spending more time with 25 of your closest friends, they can be very taxing on the body and on the mind.

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After getting an early start to the day with a morning workout and practice, many of the guys rush out of the rink, trying to quickly sneak in a meal on their way to class. With a sleeper bus leaving that night at 11PM to travel to play conference rivals Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Connecticut, we must let our Professors know that we will be missing the rest of the week and will need to get any work that will be missed in order to not fall behind in class.

With only 18 beds on the bus, and 25 players travelling on this road trip the Freshman will have to settle for the floor as their sleeping facilities until we arrive at the hotel on the following day. While they might not be happy with it, they know that there is no other choice, and it is part of being a Freshman college hockey player. The only thing that could make the sleep a little better is knowing that next year it won’t be them on the floor, but rather the incoming Freshman.

With a bus driver that didn’t mind driving through the night, the bus arrived at a local breakfast establishment at a crisp 8am. Looking around the restaurant it was clear that nobody had a good nights rest, it didn’t help breathing in enough second hand smoke to give you a good buzz.

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The rest of the day includes a pre-game practice at the home team’s ice rink followed by lunch and many different game-day rituals that significantly differ from one player to the next. Some guys might crawl into bed and have a nap while others might catch up on some homework that is due when they get back to school. Whatever different activities the players do they all have one common goal: to prepare themselves as best as they can for the upcoming battle with the Sacred Heart Pioneers.

Tune in text week to learn about where my hockey career allowed me to travel!