Catching up with Terry Watt in Kazakhstan

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

Friend of the blog Terry Watt is having quite the year. He’s currently on his third team and third country in just 6 months. Little did he know that as a young Watt growing up in Ajax, Ontario, he would one day be taking his hockey talents to almost every part of the globe.

After spending most of his early career in the Federal Hockey League and Southern Professional Hockey League, Watt made the jump down under this past summer and made his debut in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League with the Canterbury Red Devils. With Defenseman of the Year honours and an NZIHL championship under his belt, the ice from France came calling.

However his adventures in France were short-lived as former Red Devils head coach Anatoli Khorozov saved him a spot with his new found team in Kazakhstan, Beibarys Atyrau. He now skates alongside Olympians and former NHlers. Not bad for a kid from Ajax. I caught up with him to see how his Kazak adventures are fairing out.

March Hockey: How different is it playing in an up and coming hockey country such as Kazakhstan?

(www.hcbeibarys.kz)
(www.hcbeibarys.kz)

Terry Watt: First of all, playing here is a tremendous honor. I’m a player that has been given a really good and rare opportunity to play with and against some elite hockey players. The hockey here is really fast and filled with lots of skill. To be able to practice and learn every day from guys who have played in the Olympics, NHL and KHL is a bit surreal for me considering almost a year ago I was playing Single A pro back in North America. One thing that is noticeably different is that everything we do here is monitored and written down. Every day at practice we all wear heart monitors and our recover time is noted in every situation we do. The big thing for me this year is to just be a sponge and absorb as much information and learn as much as I can from these guys and try and translate it into my game to hopefully become a better player moving forward.

 

March Hockey: This is your third team and third country this year. What are some of the differences and similarities between them, hockey wise?

Terry Watt: Playing here is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. The hockey on and off the ice is very demanding. It is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do physically and mentally. With the exception of myself, all the Canadians on my team have played in the NHL, AHL, ECHL and CHL – from what they tell me, playing here is very comparable to those leagues in many regards for the exception of the NHL .

a0111337f53111ca8ed52b4c90e49ba7Each day we are usually at the rink for roughly 7-9 hrs. Some days we have two practices. When we aren’t practicing we are in the gym lifting or on the ice we are doing some type of aerobic workouts. Back in North America most pro teams practice in the mornings and then are done for the day; however some guys head to the gym for a work out, but after that their day is pretty much done. In Kazakhstan they take care of us pretty well. We have all our meals catered, and even at times brought to the rink so we don’t lose any time practicing or preparing for our next game. I’ve only been here for just under a month and I will be traveling with the team for the first time this week. We are going on a two week road trip where we will play 6 games all through the country. The guys tell me that they spend hours on planes and even some 36 hour train trips to games – so conditioning is going to play a huge role in me getting use to the Olympic size ice and intense travel schedule. These are just a few things that separate the difference in hockey here oppose to back in North America. The simple answer to your question is that this experience is something completely new to me.
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Red Devils Championship look back with NZIHL Defenceman of the Year, Terry Watt

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

Another successful year has come to an end of the New Zealand Ice Hockey League. A hard fought battle was fought between the Canterbury Red Devil and Dunedin Thunder with Canterbury coming out with their second straight Birgel Cup.

Defenceman Terry Watt as an integral part of the squad, winning his second championship in 4 years. He was a member of my close to home Akwesasne Warriors who won the Federal Hockey League championship in 2011. After a year with Canterbury, Watt is headed off for another hockey adventure in Paris, France. Could another championship be in the midst? Only time will tell. Watt gives me a look back at one of the best games of his career.

March Hockey: How did the team prepare going into the final? How was the pressure as defending champs?

Coach Khorozov. (Photo: www.reddevils.co.nz)
Coach Khorozov. (Photo: http://www.reddevils.co.nz)

Terry Watt: You have to give our coaching staff full credit.  Anatoli Khorozov and Stacey Rout made sure our team was ready. We studied film on Dunedin and made all of our guys familiar with their tendencies, everything from systems right down to their power play and penalty kill. We knew the Thunders strength was their goalie so our game plan going into the finals were to drive the net hard and make it difficult for their goalie to see shots. I don’t really think our guys felt any pressure being defending champs, we used it as motivation going into the finals. Teams win championships, great teams find a way to win them back to back and that was our goal.

MH: Take me through the final minutes of the game. What was going through your mind?

TW:  Well considering the Thunder made a late push we were just trying to calm the younger guys down and get back to playing a simpler game. But as we reached the one minute mark I couldn’t think anything else but how proud I was of the guys on my team. We prepared hard for two weeks leading up to the finals, we had a game plan and we stuck to it. It really shows you how well coached and how deep our team was from our goalie out.

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MH: Takumi Ledbetter received MVP of the Grand Final. Who do you think in your mind could receive MVP for Dunedin?

TW: Without question Matt Canaday. Just like how our goalie Michael Colman was the backbone for our team, Canaday carried Dunedin for most of the game.

MH: Where do you want to take your hockey career now?

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

TW: I just want to keep competing and winning championships, I want to play at the highest level I can before hanging them up. Growing up I was never the biggest or most skilled guy on my teams, in fact I played AA hockey for most of my youth years. It wasn’t until my midget year I finally made my local AAA team (Ajax Pickering Raiders). For some reason it wasn’t until I got to college that I started to grow and get better each year. Personally I still have a lot to prove, and though I have been fortunate enough to play in some competitive leagues I won’t be completely satisfied until I reach all my goals.

MH: You’ve won two league championships in 4 years, the first being the FHL. Going to try for number 3 next?

TW: I’ve been very lucky these past years of playing on some good teams with very talented teammates who deserve more credit for these championships then I. But I’ve learned a lot and have grown as a player over these past years, as for winning more; yes of course I want another one. Championships are addicting, once you’ve tasted one that’s all you’re thinking about going into each new season.

MH: What is it like to be called NZIHL “Defenceman of the Year”?

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

TW: There are many good defensemen in this league so it’s an honor to receive this award. I’ve played forward most of my life and only made the switch to Deference four years ago. I owe this award to my coaches and teammates over these past few years that have helped me with this transition and the pointers I’ve gotten along the way. I still have a lot to learn on the back end and only want to get better moving forward.

MH: Any last words for the Canterbury Red Devils, the fans and the NZIHL?

TW:  I want to thank the entire Red Devils organizations for giving me this opportunity to come to their beautiful country and giving me a chance to play with some great teammates. This organization is first class from top to bottom. The fans are tremendous and were very supportive throughout the entire season. Playing in the NZIHL was a great experience and I highly recommend it to all Canadians who are willing to look outside of the box and try something new. Thanks for the ever lasting memories and friendships.

March Hockey: All the best Terry, can’t wait to watch your career thrive in Europe!

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.