ROLLER HOCKEY HUB
The Roller Hockey Hub is going to offer original content about the sport of roller hockey. We plan to conduct interviews with players, coaches, organizations, and more. We are proud to present our first feature.
Our first feature is with Michael Hunt from Canadian World Master’s team. Michael has a long history in the sport of roller at the highest of levels. We have a few questions to ask Mr. Hunt for you to learn more about him.
Q: Tell us about yourself (i.e. background in roller hockey)
MH: I have been in the sport for 21 years and have worked the better part of those 21 years in growing the sport and getting the sport recognition throughout not only North America but globally. I started playing in a little town called Dracut Massachusetts in 1996 – I fell in love with the sport instantly. Even though I was pretty much awful, I worked hard every day to get better and better at the game. I played Junior in Canada in Manitoba and Sr. Ice hockey as well. I didn’t about roller hockey until I moved to the United States. I am 48 years old. I just I played for Team Canada for the 7th time in Italy; my second year playing in the FIRS Master’s Division. I have been very fortunate to play for Canada at the World Games in 2005, IIHF in 2009 and FIRS from 2003 to present.
Along the way, I have also been fortunate to coach Team Canada IIHF team in 2008 and last year the Canadian World Junior Team and Sr. Women’s World Championship Gold Medal Winning team.
As a player, I have been fortunate to win 15 national Championships in Men’s, over 35, over 45 and Pro; as well as be fortunate to be a 7 time NARCh Scoring Champion. Prior to that, I ran Team Rink Rat from 2003-2007…I was the Global Sales Manager for Rink Rat wheels and John Roderick (owner) decided to put a pro team together for marketing the wheels. I ran this team alongside Gerry St Cyr. Team Rink Rat to this day is the best and most successful roller hockey team ever assembled. In the 6 years we ran the team, we went 47 -0 -2 (never losing a game) in winning 7 National Pro Championships …Team Rink Rat also lays claim to winning the most prize money every awarded in Roller Hockey – $178,000 in TORHS and NARCh winnings.
Q: When did you get your start in roller? Do you have an ice background or have you always been a roller player?
MH: Got my start in 1996 in Dracut Mass. My background is ice hockey.
Q: What was it like to play for team Canada in the World Masters tournament?
MH: It’s an incredible honor to play for Team Canada. As mentioned, I have been very fortunate in my career to play for Canada 7 times and having the ability to play at such a high level and at a World Championship is truly humbling. The competition at the Masters is higher than some might think. Most guys are 37 and the skill level and speed of the game is ridiculous. The one thing I love about this event is everyone playing has been through all the inline hockey wars and battles and this event, all be it tough and everyone wants to win, it’s very much a family affair where we all hang out and are very good friends. Everyone knows everyone including families and kids and as mentioned when we play were playing to win, off the rink it’s just an incredible experience to be a part of.
Q: What do you think is the future for the sport of roller hockey?
MH: The future of this game is only what everyone puts into it. Everyone must make this work. I hear over and over how its dying or dead. Well here in Manitoba Canada there is a 4-year-old turning 5 who has never heard of the sport. It’s up to us to carry the torch and introduce this life changing game to kids and families alike. We have an incredible opportunity to promote the game. The game is more fun, promotes creativity, no contact which parents love. Also, with the concussion issues coming to the fore front parents and families are reluctant to put their kids in ice hockey. Throw in the lower costs for roller and we right now have the perfect storm to promote the game. We need NHL players who credit this game to help the sport. Guys like Chris Terry, Cory Conacher and Pat Maroon are doing great things to help roller hockey. We need more guys promoting the greatness of the game.
Q: Anything you’d like to share with the readers of Roller Hockey Hub?
MH: If you’re an ice hockey player and love roller hockey, then make sure you do what you can to convince your friends to try the game. Once they play roller hockey, they will be hooked forever.
Q: Are you only a player or do you also work in the roller hockey industry?
MH: I was the global sales manager for Rink Rat wheels and currently run the CCRH (Central Canadian Roller Hockey) out of Winnipeg Manitoba. I am also a coach and player. (I will be suiting up for Team Canada’s men’s team at AAU July 10-13).
Q: What is the biggest championship you have ever won in roller hockey?
MH: Hard to say on this one. 2003 NARCh pro was huge, all the TORHS pro championships were right up there.
But I think I would have to go with the one that I didn’t play but was a coach.
I was a coach along with Dave Hammond last year in Italy where our Women’s team won the World Championship for Canada…I would say that was special.
Q: How can we grow the sport? How is roller hockey doing today as a sport? Is there anything you would like to see in the sport? Any closing words?
MH: As mentioned the sport will only grow if there are committed people running it for the right reasons. We need to make sure that we introduce the game to kids at a young age and have incredible people helping them. People like Peter Dale, Joe Cook, Rob Chournmud, Ben Frank and many more are doing great work to promote the game and develop kids into being great athletes, student and people. We need year-round facilities to accommodate the players and mostly we need to ensure that we have qualified mentors leading the way. This is the greatest game I have ever played and will spend my remaining days promoting it and helping kids fall in love with it.
End of Interview
All of us at Roller Hockey Hub would like to thank Mr. Hunt for his time with this interview. We hope our readers enjoy learning more about a true pro of the roller hockey industry. Don’t forget to look for Michael playing for Team Canada in July again.