Fred Coutts is a Canadian born Aussie who’s currently playing over in the Australian Ice Hockey League with the Perth Thunder. He played some of his junior career with the Edmonton Mustangs of the CJHL. As a fellow Canadian, I was intrigued to ask him about his hockey adventures and how the Perth Thunder is thundering on with the loss of Mike Forney.
March Hockey: You played some Junior over in Canada, how does that compare to playing in a professional league such as the AIHL?
Fred Coutts: This winter I was lucky enough to play some Jr B hockey in Edmonton before returning to Australia to play for the Thunder. Playing junior was an awesome experience, and a real eye-opener to the speed and physicality of the North American game. The AIHL is a much different style of hockey; less crash-and-bang and more emphasis on skating with the puck. One of the coolest things about playing in the AIHL is the chance to compete with/against professional import players from leagues like the SPHL, ECHL, and even the AHL. Overall the two experience differ, but are both very enjoyable.
MH: How has Perth adapted to the loss of Mike Forney?
FC: It was tough for the first few games, and as a team we’ve had to lift offensively since his departure. But we’ve got great depth in our lineup, and the boys have stepped up to the task of filling that void. Michael Forney was a class-act on the ice and beyond, and will be dearly missed.
MH: How is the support for hockey in Australia? Are the fans just as passionate?
FC: We are blessed with fantastic, loyal fans in Perth, who have stuck by the team through the hard times and the good. In the country’s east, teams such as the Melbourne Ice and Canberra Knights sell out their arenas every weekend. The support for hockey grows stronger with each season, both locally and nationally.
MH: Where would you like to see your hockey career take you?
FC: Once my junior eligibility has expired, I’m hoping to play Senior AA in Canada. After that, my greatest dream would be to play in the Federal Hockey League (FHL). I definitely want to keep playing competitive hockey for as long as I possibly can.
MH: Growing up, player wise, who was your biggest influence on your style of play?
FC: I used to love watching Hal Gill play for the Leafs, and I’ve always tried to imitate his stick-checking, shot-blocking, body positioning, and strong work on the PK. Now if only I had his size…
MH: If you could play against any player, past or present, who would it be and why??
FC: Crosby for sure. Just to witness his mix of strength, speed and finesse. I think it would be very humbling.
If there are any other AIHL, NZIHL or other hockey players from around the world who would like to take part in a Q&A with March Hockey, get in contact with me! Send me a message or tweet at @MarchHockey or on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/marchhockey! I want to hear from you!