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 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.

Q&A With Canterbury, New Zealand Red Devils Goaltender Justin Findlay

Last week we saw how hockey has taken off in Wales, United Kingdom with our Q&A with Matt Richards of the Cardiff Bay Lightning. This week we head down under.

RED_DEVILSJustin Findlay is a 25 year old Canadian playing goaltender for the Canterbury Red Devils of the New Zealand Ice Hockey League. Most people don’t even think of hockey when they hear of that country. Here’s what Justin had to tell me about the ever growing game in Kiwi land.

March Hockey: How did you end up in New Zealand, let alone playing hockey there?

Justin Findlay: I was originally born in Sudbury, Ontario. My father is an air traffic controller and with his job he moves around a lot. I moved here when I was 4/5 years old and started playing inline hockey at age 10. I then transitioned to ice hockey at 12 and continued to play both until 17 years old when I switched to ice permanently.

MH: How is the hockey there compared to that of European leagues or back home in North America? Are fans just as passionate?

971646_10151901929437345_1204126200_nJF: The league is growing in skill level and fans every season, we have a very passionate support base and I firmly believe the Southern Stampede have the most passionate fans in the NZIHL. I would compare our league to a Canadian major junior league in terms of skill level, although as I said earlier it improves every season.

MH: Is there a lot of support for hockey in New Zealand? Or even Australia?

JF: There is a great, loyal fan base down under, in both countries! New Zealanders really enjoy the sport but the problem is getting them down to their first game. We find that once people have seen one game it is quite hard to keep them away!

MH: Growing up, who was your biggest influence as a goaltender?? What is your style of play like?

296281_10151873877787345_143077362_nJF: Growing up I was heavily influenced by Dominik Hasek, Terry Sawchuck, Curtis Joseph, Johnny Bower, Patrick Roy and ‘Battlin’ Billy Smith. I play a hybrid-butterfly style of goal-tending and I love to challenge shooters and come quite far out of my net. I am confident in my puck handling, although my team members may not be as confident!

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

JF: If I could play with ANY player ever it would have to be Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils. I know he would protect me in net and would give me some huge hits to fawn over on the ice.

Head on over to http://www.reddevils.co.nz for more info on the team and the NZIHL!

Q & A With Cardiff Bay Lightning Goaltender Matt Richards

45411_10151282776065764_700651231_n
Matt Richards is a six year veteran with the Cardiff Bay Lightning of the British Hockey Conference; a six team league in the United Kingdom. I was eager for him to give me his take on the state of hockey on his side of the pond.

March Hockey:  How would you consider the style of play different in the UK or Europe in general compared to that of North America?

Matt Richards: “The style of play in the UK is fairly unique in Europe, being similar to that of North America, in terms of physicality and build up play. The other European leagues play a more patient, less physical passing game. I would place the EIHL (Elite Ice Hockey League) average skill level around ECHL standard, perhaps AHL/ECHL in the top teams.”

MH:  As a goaltender, who was your inspiration growing up?? Favourite current goalie??

935478_10151390149850764_2116814298_nMR: Growing up, I loved watching Dominik Hasek, Chris Osgood, Marty Brodeur and Marty Turco. I play a fairly different style to all of them but some of their save choices have leaked into my game. For example, i will freeze the puck with my blocker hand if its that side (Hasek), I’ll stack my pads more than a “normal” goalie would (Hasek, Brodeur) and I love playing the puck (Brodeur, Turco – I use the ‘Turco grip”). My current favourite goalies would be Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Quick and Tuukka Rask. They’re all quite technical in their approach to the game but can pull off the sprawling saves when needed.”

MH: Is there a lot of support for UK hockey? A lot of support for Cardiff?

MR: “Support for UK hockey is growing all the time, however I believe it needs better management from the top in order to be more successful. The governing bodies need to be totally independent from the EIHL teams and do more to promote the sport within the UK. It has the potential to be huge, it’s the perfect sport for the UK considering our changeable weather! Cardiff has always enjoyed a very strong fan base and there are actually so many teams below the top league playing out of our temporary rink right now that ice time is very limited!”

MH: Who’s shot would you be most afraid of saving?

940995_10151374256540764_345260863_nMR: “I really enjoy stopping the hard shots, especially with my glove, but I’d have to say Zdeno Chara. I always get out as far as possible when I see a player winding up for a shot but i’m not sure I’d come out as far for his!!”

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

MR: “Well honestly, I’d love to have the chance to play with any of the NHLers; I’ve practiced with the pro guys over here a few times and that’s been great. But if I had to pick, I’d say for a goalie it has to be Brodeur. He’s a legend; his numbers say it all and to still be playing at the level he is today is phenomenal. Non-goalie wise, I’d love to play with Datsyuk.  In my opinion the greatest hands the NHL has ever seen. Penalty shot practice would be interesting!”

Cardiff Bay’s next game is July 13th against the Sheffield Squeelers, who sit above the Lightning in first place. Puck drop is 8:30 pm, UK time!