One on One with Olympic official Joy Tottman

(Photo: icehockey.co.uk)
(Photo: icehockey.co.uk)

Joy Tottman is a well-known name among British hockey circles. She’s been apart of Ice Hockey UK as well as the IIHF for over 15 years. What’s even better is she is a strong woman at the top of her game. The past Olympics in Sochi, Russia was her third consecutive time officiating the Winter Games and she held the honour of being selected to run the ice for the women’s gold medal game between Canada and the United States. I caught up with her to shed a little insight into what makes a strong woman referee and to give women here in Canada a chance at stepping into another part of the best sport on Earth.

March Hockey: How did you get involved in hockey? What made you head into the disciplinary part of the game?

Joy Tottman: I first started refereeing at the age of 12.  I had wanted to learn how to skate and my dad had taken me to our local rink and given me the choice of playing hockey or figure skating and I chose hockey.  I was playing under 10s and when we had games no officials were turning up.  My dad was one of the only parents who could skate and so he took the referee course so that we could play our games.  He would then have to stay on to referee the games after my game and so he got me to take the course too so I could stay on with him.  I started to enjoy the refereeing and made the switch to just refereeing at a really young age.  I guess it was a way for me to be involved in the game without the physical element of playing in a boy’s team.

MH: This past Olympics was your third. How do you prepare mentally and physically for an event of that size?

 

( Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images)
( Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images)

JT: The physical preparation was a huge part of going to the Sochi Olympics.  There was a pre-Olympic selection camp in August 2013 where we were tested on and off the ice.  I had a trainer for off-ice who I saw 3 times a week and then did my own programme on the other days.  Because I have a day job this meant training at 6am each morning.  The mental preparation for me was all about getting game experience throughout the season and of course over the years.  Making sure that I focused on each game and learned from the situations within it.  It was about putting myself mentally in a place where I knew I was prepared and had done everything possible to be in the best shape and best frame of mind for the games. Continue reading “One on One with Olympic official Joy Tottman”

One on One with Grant McPherson of the Milton Keynes Lightning

00326482 - 250x375Grant McPherson is a talented forward for the Milton Keynes Lightning who comes from a country that is not especially noted for it’s hockey prowess: Scotland. The 26 year-old Scot has entered his 8th season with the Lightning and caught up with me to give me some insight on the EPL and growing up loving hockey in Scotland.

March Hockey: First things first, being a native of Scotland which isn’t really known for their hockey, how did you get into the game and who influenced your play growing up?

Grant McPherson: It all started when I was on a family vacation in Washington DC with the family. It was the night we arrived and my mom, dad & I went straight to sleep but my brother was wide awake so he turned on the TV. It just so happened that it was a Pittsburgh Penguins game that came on and he couldn’t turn it off. In the morning, he told us what he watched. We didn’t even know if it existed back home but my dad said he would have a look into it. From there we started going to watch the Fife Flyers and I started playing at the age of 8. Growing up, I guess it was Fife players like Doug Smail, Frank Morris and Mark Morrison I looked up to but Jaromir Jagr was my all time favourite player.

MH: What’s it like being given the promotion of “Alternate Captain”?

McPherson v Swindon 180212GM: It was a massive honour. All throughout juniors I was a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ so I knew I had leadership qualities in me. With this being my 8th season with the Milton Keynes Lightning, I feel like I am now one of the more experienced players in the team and I want to help the younger guys improve as much as I can. It was a proud day when I got that call from my coach Nick Poole. Continue reading “One on One with Grant McPherson of the Milton Keynes Lightning”

One on One with Quebec Remparts Assistant Captain, Kurt Etchegary

(Photo: Jonathan Roy)
(Photo: Jonathan Roy)

Kurt Etchegary is a fiesty centre from St. John’s, Newfoundland who is currently in his third Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season with the Quebec Remparts. His 25 points in 31 games of last year’s campaign earned him the Assistant Captaincy. We chatted about coming off an injury laden season, playing under the greatness of Patrick Roy and attending an NHL training camp.

March Hockey:  How was it to come back on the ice after undergoing surgery on your hip joints?

Kurt Etchegary: After my hip surgeries, I felt like a new man! I had my problems fixed and I was had more energy on the ice and in the gym. It allowed me to last longer in games and contribute more without feeling any pain. The surgery was to make the capsules in both the left and right hip circular, instead of a previously oval-like shape. This stopped rubbing of joints and made it easier for me to be more flexible.

MH: What was it like to play under a hockey icon as big as Patrick Roy?

Etchegary with Roy. (Photo: lapresse.ca)
Etchegary with Roy. (Photo: lapresse.ca)

KE: Playing for Patrick was such an honor. He is a legend in every aspect, both on and off the ice. The feeling that you have around him whether its when you first meet him or after knowing him for two years… it never changes. He is respected by everyone that he meets and you can see the passion in him just by talking to him. He is a winner and hates to lose and really helped me develop my game and bring it to the next level.

MH: Although you went undrafted this year, what was your experience like in attending the Detroit Red Wings training camp?

KE: It was an unbelievable experience in Detroit, I met amazing people like Ken Holland, Mike Babcock, Chris Chelios and the list goes on… it was great to see how professional the organization was and to get a bit of an idea on what it takes to make it to that level. It is something I will never forget and I really hope to return for another camp next year.

MH: Growing up, what player did you look up to the most to help your style of play?

(Photo: Sebastien Dion)
(Photo: Sebastien Dion)

KE: My favourite player is Mike Richards because of his grit, determination and leadership. He inspires me when I watch him and I try to play like him. I love his play; he finishes his hits, isn’t afraid of anyone and always battles 60 minutes. He is a true captain and a real role model for a player with my style.

MH: What are you expectations with yourself and the Quebec Remparts in general coming into this season?

KE: Our team this year is VERY VERY good. One of the best teams on paper, however we have had a horrible start so far. Once we start to click, our skill and work ethic will carry us a long way and hopefully to the Memorial Cup. We have some of the best skill in the CHL along with the London Knights and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and I think it can be anyones championship depending on who will work the most.

One on One with Phoenix Coyotes 2011 First Round Draft Pick, Connor Murphy

Murphy Grunge2941

Connor Murphy is one blue line defender you do not want to come across. At 6’3″ he is a towering addition to any blue line he’s on. While suiting up for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting for the past two seasons, he’s notched up 44 points in 68 games. He previously played for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and in that same year was selected 20th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes. This past winter he scored the overtime game winner of the gold medal match up at the  2013World Juniors in Ufa, Russia.

You may even recall his father, Gord Murphy, a bruising defenceman who spent 14 seasons in the National Hockey League between the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers and Atlanta Thrashers. He is currently assistant coach to Kevin Dineen of the Florida Panthers.

I jumped at the chance at this opportunity to go into the mind of a first round drafted player.

March Hockey: You were drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft, how did you mentally prepare to go into an event of that stature?

(Photo: sarniasting.com)
(Photo: sarniasting.com)

Connor Murphy: The preparation was all in the NHL Combine off the ice, in games during the season, and in the interviews with each team. So once the draft came, it was all about enjoying the experience and soaking it all in. I always watched the draft growing up, so it was pretty surreal being there with my family and around teammates of mine. Continue reading “One on One with Phoenix Coyotes 2011 First Round Draft Pick, Connor Murphy”

One on One with Perth Thunder’s Fred Coutts

(Photo: Paul Kelly. Shutterspeed Designs.)
(Photo: Paul Kelly. Shutterspeed Designs.)

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?

Mike Forney. Perth Thunder. (Photo: perththunder.com.au)
Mike Forney. Perth Thunder. (Photo: perththunder.com.au)

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?

(Photo: Paul Kelly. Shutterspeed Designs.)
(Photo: Paul Kelly. Shutterspeed Designs.)

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!

One on One with Adelaide Adrenaline’s Charlie Huber

(Photo: adelaideadrenaline.com.au)
(Photo: adelaideadrenaline.com.au)

Charlie Huber is a New Zealander who has recently made the jump from the NZIHL to the Australian Ice Hockey League. After growing up in West Germany, Huber found a home in New Zealand and suited up for the Botany Swarm, winning 4 championships and presiding as alternate captain. He has played numerous IIHF tournaments as a member of the New Zealand Ice Blacks who won silver in 2011.

March Hockey: You played several years with the Botany Swarm of the NZIHL, what was it like to make the jump to the AIHL with the Adelaide Adrenaline?

Charlie Huber: Changing from the NZIHL to AIHL was a step up. As seen by the Trans- Tasman (March’s note: an inter-league tournament) results last year, there is still a difference between the leagues. Also I find the AIHL is able to attract better import players because of better financial backing. This resulting in a faster pace game. But things can change as we know, the Adrenaline team however helped me to adjust quickly. They’re a good bunch.

MH: What was it like representing New Zealand at the World Championships and coming back with a medal?

CH: I was and am very proud every time I put on the NZ jersey. It’s an awesome country and when I think about all the history, people, nature and culture I get to represent, it certainly doesn’t require much further motivation to go into a game. Bringing a medal back, I think, we deserved as all the boys, management and the coaching staff put in the effort for it. Of course it was fantastic to get the recognition for all the effort we put in during the off- season.

(Photo: adelaideadrenaline.com.au)
(Photo: adelaideadrenaline.com.au)

MH: Growing up, what player influenced you the most?

CH: I think growing up I had a few influential players. There were at the beginning a few players from my local senior team at EC Pfaffenhofen. One example would be Roman Mucha, who was an incredible forward with an impressive skill set. Another person that really comes to mind is Bob Sullivan. He was on the ice a few times with my junior teams and displayed amazing skills. Of course being a former NHL player helped my admiration for him.

MH: If you could play with any player, past or present, who would it be and why?

CH: I would really like to play again with my junior team from EHC Klostersee. That group of players was great to be around. All mates from early age and fantastic understanding of other players on the ice. It was all about passing and everyone playing the same system and of course it was nice to have so much success.

MH: Where would you like to see your hockey career go from here?

CH: I had some trouble with injuries this year. So I would like to build up more consistency and get back 100% fit again. Also I hope I can stay away from big injuries in the future. Next year I am hoping to be able to represent NZ in Spain and hopefully we’ll be able to get away with a gold this time!

Q&A With Former Texas Brahmas and Hull Stingrays Enforcer, Ryan Hand

407820_10150436793533732_783894204_nRyan Hand has been all over North America in his hockey career so far. Spending time with 5 different teams in the Central Hockey League, to a few stints in the East Coast Hockey League and the Southern Professional Hockey League.

Most recently he spent time with the Hull Stingrays of the Elite Ice Hockey League in the United Kingdom, but he is glad to be back on North American soil for this upcoming season. I caught up with him to get his take on the coolest game on earth.

March Hockey: You spent last season with the Hull Stingrays in the EIHL. How is UK hockey, or European hockey in general compared to hockey in North America? Or the EIHL to the CHL?

1011973_10151571105053732_1488936880_nRyan Hand: The biggest difference from North American hockey to the game in the UK had to be playing on the International ice. Teams that use that to their advantage, and stretch you out, make it hard to get the big hits that come pretty much every shift when I play on the smaller ice surface in North America.

MH: You’ve have a few tilts with LNAH legend John Mirasty. What was it like going toe to toe with a guy of that stature?

RH: Throughout my career I’ve fought a lot of tough guys, but everyone always asks about Jon Mirasty. The one face you don’t want to see when you’re squaring up at centre ice. He is one tough customer, I respect him a lot. We had 3 solid battles in 06-07.

MH: Who’s your favourite enforcer of all time and why?

RH: Favourite tough guy of all time has to be Bob Probert. A monster who destroyed everyone he dropped the gloves with and had skill too.

MH: How does it feel to be back playing on North American soil?

RH: It feels great to be able to play close to home this year. I’m looking forward to having friends and family come and support the team this year. Spending Christmas with the family for once will also be nice.

MH: And finally, if you could fight anyone, past or present, who would it be and why??

RH: I’d have to say if I could pick anyone it would be Probert. Even though it wouldn’t last long, I’d still give him a go.

Q&A With Canterbury Red Devils Terry Watt

(Photo credit: Gisela Gudrun)
(Photo credit: Gisela Gudrun)

Terry Watt is one of many Canadians who are sorted throughout the world playing the game we love. A native of Ajax, Ontario, he has spent most of his career in the Federal Hockey League while winning a championship with my close to home Akwesasne Warriors. He is currently down under playing for the Canterbury Red Devils of the New Zealand Ice Hockey League.

March Hockey: You’ve played with numerous teams in the FHL including winning a championship with the Akwesasne Warriors. What was that experience like and how would you compare that league to the NZIHL where you are now?

Terry Watt: Playing for Akwesasne was a great experience. It was my first year playing pro and I was lucky enough to win a championship. The best part was playing on the same team with NHL players and my D partner was an Olympian. Winning a championship is great but being able to learn from these types of players is something you will carry on with you forever. The big difference between the NZIHL and hockey in North America is time and space. The hockey here is more European influenced. The game is less physical and you seem to have a bit more time and space with the puck, it’s more of a controlled game where each team is trying to run up the score board.

 

(Photo credit: Gisela Gudrun)
(Photo credit: Gisela Gudrun)

MH: How does the talent in the NZIHL stack up in general??

TW: The hockey talent in the NZIHL is a lot better than people in North America even know. I have seen some Kiwi’s that would defiantly compete for some jobs back home; Chris Eden, Brett Speirs, K.C ball and Gino Heyd, just to name a few.
MH:  Growing up, who was your biggest influence on your style of play??

TW: Growing up a Toronto Maple Leafs fan I would have to say Mats Sundin was my favorite player growing up. I played forward my whole life until i turned pro; my coach tried me on D because I play a physical game and can make a good first pass. I don’t like comparing myself to NHL players because they are in a NHL for a reason and I can only inspire to be as good as they are at what they do.

MH: If you could play against anybody past or present, who would it be and why??

 

(Photo credit: Gisela Gudrun)
(Photo credit: Gisela Gudrun)

TW: Mats Sundin, no question in my mind. Sundin is one of the reasons I wanted to become a hockey player. I would just want to thank him for giving me hope that one day I could be a pro like him. I know I didn’t make it to the NHL, but I’m still playing the game and get to travel all over the world because of it, not many people in their life time have had a chance to do the same things I have.
MH: Where do you hope your hockey career will take you next??

TW: Right now I just want to play in as many countries as possible. I want to play for a new team in a new country for the next couple of years. Travel the world! And when it’s all said and done, I want to coach. I would love to coach when I’m done with hockey.

Q&A With Former KHL Enforcer Jon Mirasty

mirasty-yablonski-590x445Jon “Nasty” Mirasty is one player you’d rather have on your team then to be playing against him. In his 10 year professional career which has seen him play all over the globe, he has racked up a total of 2571 penalty minutes.

Case in point: He’s not one to be messed with.

Jon Mirasty is a native of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan and got his start in the WHL. He turned pro in 2003 with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL and the legend was born. I was intrigued by his style and his brief foray into the MMA world.

March Hockey: You’ve played in numerous leagues but the one I’m most intrigued by is the KHL. How does the game over in Russia compare to that of North America?? Different atmosphere??

Jon Mirasty: Russia was a great experience. The game is a lot different. You play on a bigger ice surface which opens things up. On the physical aspect, guys there shy away from the rough stuff. Instead of booing, fans whistle. You don’t know if they are cheering for you or against you. It was very hard for me because I love to fight, and there I’d get into only 4 or 5 fights a season. All in all, it was a great time!

MH: I’ll ask right off the bat too, who’s the toughest guy you’ve ever fought?

JM: The toughest guy I ever fought is a pretty hard question to ask. I’ve fought so many guys that were very tough in different ways. Memorable guys that stand out to me would be guys like Steve MacIntyre, Derek Boogard, Jeremy Yablonski. I have to admit, Steve Bosse hit pretty hard too! But like I said, all the guys I fought were pretty tough and I respect them for doing one of the harder jobs in the game.

MH: You’ve spent some time in the LNAH. How does that league compare to other ones you’ve played in? Do you think it’s changed since you’ve left?

42JM: I had a great time playing in the LNAH. Obviously the skill level wasn’t on par with the KHL or AHL, but I feel that a lot of people under estimate the league. From what I remember, there were some very good players, along with some very tough men. I love old school hockey but sometimes the fights/brawls got a little carried away. It was a very exciting league where fans got a little bit of everything. I haven’t played there in over 6 years so things may have changed.

MH: Growing up as a kid, who was your biggest influence on your game and why?

JM: A lot of people helped me get to where I got, but the biggest influence would have been my dad, Gary.

MH: Any chance will see you in an MMA ring again?? What was that experience like??

JM: MMA was awesome. I have a lot of respect for those athletes. It is completely different than fighting on skates. I did not prepare properly and was not ready to compete. It takes a lot of devotion and time to train. With my new business adventures, I doubt I’ll have the time to ever attempt to compete again. I will train though.

Jon-Mirasty

MH: If you could play (or fight haha) against anyone, past or present, who would it be and why??

JM: I’ve had great battles against many guys and would look forward to doing it again against any one of them. Let my son put a few years on, and maybe I’ll try him.

Q&A With Cornwall River King, Alex Bourret

Alex Bourret is a feisty right-winger who grew up in Quebec. Being drafted 16th overall in the first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft to the Atlanta Thrashers, Bourret  has played in many leagues both here and across the pond. Last season he started off with the Cornwall River Kings and then finished up in Russia. This season, he’s back in the River Kings line up for his second year.

March Hockey: How does the style of of play in Russia compare to that of North America like the LNAH or ECHL for example? What was it like with the language barrier?

WIth Brno Kometa of the Czech Republic.
WIth Brno Kometa of the Czech Republic.

Alex Bourret: I’ve played in Russia, South Korea, Czech Republic and the language barrier has always been hard (they don’t speak any English or they’re not willing to try). It’s a different game overseas, ice is bigger and it is less physical but they can play hockey that for sure.

MH: Wait a minute….South Korea?! What was THAT like?

AB: They treat you real good over there. Japan, China, nicest hotels and private jets; Everything! But hockey is another story…

MH: Are the fans/players/teams just us passionate as us Canadians are for the game?

AB: Yes they are!! Some don’t know much about hockey; It’s more a big party for them but when you hear 15 000 people  screaming for 2 hours,  it’s great. Gives you a lot of energy.

MH: Growing up who was your biggest influence on your style of play??

AB: I always compare myself to guys like Sean Avery and Darcy Tucker. I like the way they play and they are not the biggest guys either.

MH: You’re a bit of a fighter, who’s the toughest player to go toe to toe with you?

With the San Antonio Rampage of the Central Hockey League
With the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL.

AB: I remember one night in junior playing in Rimouski against Sidney Crosby. I was all over him and at one point Eric Nelson, (one of the tough guys at the time), asked me to go. Probably to scare me, I told him “Let’s go big guy!” with a BIG smile. I did pretty good on that one.

MH: And finally, if you could play with any player past or present, who would it be and why?

AB: Probably Thomas Beauregard. He was my linemate with the Wichita Thunder a year ago and we did good together. He is a sniper and I’m more of a hard-working forward.