Welcome to our first edition of “Hometown Hockey Heroes”.
Our goal is to bring hockey enthusiasts young and old across the country some awesome hockey content on some of Australia’s best hockey players – past and present.
Every month we will be interviewing a different player giving you some insight into their hockey history, their life and why they love the game so much.
#19 Ray Sheffield
Ray was born on October 26th 1970 and hails from Collingwood, Ontario.
Ray moved to Australia back in 2000. His first season in the AIHL was in 2002 for the Newcastle Northstars where he went on to play 292 games and won 4 AIHL championships as a player.
Ray has played, coached, been an equipment manager and even worked at Hunter Ice Skating Rink over the last 20 years in Australia.
We remember Ray for being absolutely relentless on the ice along with not taking sh*t from anyone. A highlight of mine personally was watching him come to Adelaide and battle against the Avalanche – In particular Trevor Walsh which resulted in a couple of great tilts over the years.
We spoke with Ray and asked him a few question about his life, hockey and everything in between ( where there was time)
● Best advice you’ve been given in life?
My Mom use to say to us when we were kids, “ remember your the fly in the milk” which basically means that when you walk out the door be on your best behaviour because you’re the one that will be recognised when something bad happens.
● Best advice you’ve been given during your hockey career?
If you play with fear you’re more likely to get hurt.
● Best coach you’ve played for and why?
In 2002 Rob Barnes was the best technical coach I’d ever had up until that point. I’d have to say he taught me more about the game and how to practice better than any other coach that I’d had.
● Two reasons you like being part of a team sport?
- The friendships you form are usually life long.
- When you win something together as a group and you look back at it later in life and it still feels unreal. Each person pulls out a little bit more of the finer details, things you may have forgotten about over time. It’s nice!
● What qualities do you think make a good teammate?
Trust, effort, and commitment are the things that stand out for me.
● What do you do to calm your butterflies before or during games?
I try to get a little contact in early in a game. It usually helps me settle down. I also try to remember that every game plays out differently so if I focus on the current situation, my assignment on that play, then I’m not feeling nervous.
● What have you had to give up to pursue your hockey career?
Probably the opportunity to play other sports when scheduling clashed and later in life, the opportunity to spend time with my family would be the two things that stand out. When I was younger I played a lot of different sports so that happened a lot. I had kids and was away for weekends playing, all I wanted to do was get back home.
● Two people that have helped you the most through your your hockey career?
- My twin brother always looked out for me when we were kids and played on the same line together. He’s quite a bit bigger then me and wasn’t afraid to fight to many guys.
- Of course my parents. They carted us all over the country side to play hockey. We didn’t have a lot of money but they always managed it somehow.
● Most memorable hockey experience?
Most of my family are Toronto Maple Leaf fans and I remember sitting in my moms lap as a kid. it must have been a playoff game back in the Darryl Sittler, Tiger Williams and Borje Salming era. The leafs scored and my mom jumped out of her chair. I land somewhere on the floor. I’ve been a leafs fan ever since.
● Favorite country / rink you’ve played hockey in and why?
I would have to say that my favourite rink to play in or visit is my hometown rink in Canada. When I walk in the door it sends chills down my spine thinking of all the hockey I’ve played there, watching my older brother play there when I was little and thinking about all the players that inspired me to play and fall in love with the game. It’s amazing but the rink still has the same smell that it did when I was a kid. I think that’s what triggers those amazing memories.
● Funniest thing you’ve seen on the rink?
When I was playing bantam in my home town of Collingwood, we played a team from Sweden. The players were introduced and came on to the ice under a spot light. One of the guys on my team ran out on the ice with his skate guards on in front of a packed house. He must of slid 10 feet but I’m sure it would have felt for him like he slid the length of the rink.
● Funniest thing you’ve seen while on a road trip?
One of my coaches farted on the bench, I luckily had just hopped on the ice for a shift change but he cleared the bench and because there was no glass around the bench, even the fans three rows behind were moving as I looked back. Coach was in tears he was laughing so hard.
● Funniest chirp you’ve received?
Not a chirp but caught on film a very funny incident involving a teammate. We had a shot on net and a scrum broke out in front of the opposition’s net. While everyone was pushing and shoving in front of the net my teammate snuck off behind the net and loosened the lid on the goalies water bottle. Of course the next time he drank from it the cap flew off. It was funny the how it all happened and the fact that it was all caught on film.
● Weirdest thing you’ve seen a team mate do in the locker room?
We use to call it a sky dump. One of my teammates would climb on top of the toilet stall with one leg over each side and take a sh*t.
● Toughest player you have played against in Australia?
There are more than a few guys I wouldn’t fight. Don Burke, Andrew Petrie, Anthony Wilson and probably Joey and Vinnie Hughes.
● Best line mate you’ve played with and why?
My twin brother would be the best line mate because we had a really good connection. At a very young age we seemed to be able to find each other on the ice. He had a great shot and I got a lot of points because of it.
● Who do you wish was watching you play at every game?
I wish my dad was around to see where I ended with hockey. He would have been proud of me no matter what I did I think but he never saw my reach my highest potential.
● What 2 things are most important to you and how do you prioritise these things during the season?
- Family – When I played I tried to spend as much time as I could with them right up until I had to rush out the door to leave.
- My relationship with my friends. I hate letting friends down when they need something. Some people look at it as a fault, which in a way it probably is. I don’t believe that things change during a hockey season for me but my wife would probably say different.
● Any hot tip’s for any young aspiring players reading
Looking back I couldn’t have imagined where the sport of hockey was going to take me. I’ve traveled to places I would never have gone because of it.
I can say that I was never the the most skilled player on any team that I played for, So why me? The work that I put in during practice and in the gym translated to my effort on the ice, and that’s what people noticed about me.
My advice is to compete in every drill you do and challenge yourself to do the simplest drills with a purpose. People WILL notice and it may open up some doors that you never thought possible.
We’d like to thank Ray for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope you enjoyed this insight as much as we did.
Stay tuned for our next edition of Hometown Hockey Heroes – If you have any suggestions on players you wanna to see interviewed leave a comment below!