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!

Advertisements

Perth Thunder’s Stan Scott on the importance of Imports

Perth_Thunder_LogoI came across a very in-depth article on the Australian Ice Hockey League’s Perth Thunder and the fact that they lost their best imported player (and best player in the league by far with 47 points in 16 games played) to a brand new contract with a club in Austria.

The coach of the Perth Thunder specifically pointed out the importance of imported players and how it helps to shape and mold not only the team, but the Australian Ice Hockey League itself.

“Recruiting players like Mike play well for us, but also help us develop the culture we strive for by imparting his influence, knowledge and experience. This, in turn, has and will guide and keep us on the right road to success.” Stan Scott, Perth Thunder head coach.

Mike Forney. Perth Thunder.
Mike Forney. Perth Thunder.

And he’s right. The only way to increase your development as a player, team, or league is to play against or with better players. I’ve been arguing and defending the importance of player imports in the CHL.  The fact that the Canadian Hockey League may indeed ban all imported junior hockey draft picks is detrimental to the league itself. Did I mention that doesn’t include Americans though? How fair is that?

I realize that we are one of the best, if not the best, hockey nation in the world. Do you think we got here on our own? Of course not. It was playing against better players from all over the world. It came from playing the Soviets in ’72 and in numerous World Juniors and Canada Cups. It came from playing with Fins, Swedes, and Russians in the junior leagues through to the National Hockey League in the 90’s.

“Magic” Mike Forney might be gone from down under but his imported significance will live with the Perth Thunder for years to come. Bravo to Stan Scott and the whole Perth Thunder organization.

AIHL Team Profile: Perth Thunder

Next up we head to the far west coast of Australia with the Perth Thunder.

Perth_Thunder_LogoOne of the newer teams in the league, the Thunder were founded in 2010 and played their inaugural season in 2012. Managing two games under .500, they did not reach the finals. That didn’t halt their progress though as they currently sit in fourth place behind the Melbourne Ice in the season taking place as we speak.

Perth ices 5 Canadians, One American and the rest of the roster is made up of Australians and New Zealandsers. Both Aussies and Kiwis can play in each other’s leagues and are not considered import players allowing them for unlimited amounts. Captain Samuel Wilson won gold with Team Australia in the 2003 IIHF Division III Under 18 Championships in Mexico City.

The Perth Thunder play their next game Saturday July 13th against the Newcastle North Stars! Puck drops at 5pm local time.