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Read our latest interview with Coventry Blaze star, Justin Hamonic!
Justin Hamonic is a Canadian professional hockey player currently playing for the Coventry Blaze in England. Growing up in Canada, Hamonic played for Team Manitoba during his youth days. He has since played for the likes of the Alaska Aces, San Antonio Rampage, Fort Wayne Komets, and has even played pro hockey in France! A tough player on the ice, Hamonic is a great person off of it! Read below to find out more!
The Justin Hamonic Interview
2. In 2009, you played for Team Manitoba, representing your city and playing against Canada’s best talent. How was your experience with Manitoba at the Canadian Winter Games?
That was a fun experience. It was one of the first opportunities I had to play against some of the top players from other provinces and the first time I represented Manitoba. Having that opportunity opened my eyes to how many good players there are in Canada. I remember We really came together as a team and surprised many people with our performance. It was a good feeling to be the underdog and finish second in the tournament.
3. You played junior hockey with the Tri-City Americans for four sessions, captaining then in your last two. What did it mean for you to be captain of a top junior team?
It was a great honour to captain Tri-City in my time there. We had many worthy leaders on the team that could have been named captain. They all made my job easier as the captain. I learned a lot as a player and leader in that opportunity. Altogether my time as an American was fantastic.
4. What’s the toughest part about junior hockey?
The toughest part about playing junior hockey especially in the WHL would be the travel aspect. We had many long road trips where we were away from home for a couple weeks at a time. There were many hours spent on busses which took a toll on you as the season wore on. Those road trips weren’t all bad though. That’s where we would become close as a team. We had tons of fun on the bus, in hotels, and in different cities.
5. In the 2014-2015 seasons, you played with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL, making your first pro appearance. Describe the difference in terms of level of play from junior hockey to ECHL?
To me, one of the biggest differences was the positioning and intelligence of the players. There is much less room in pro than junior, partially because guys are bigger but also because they are much better with their positioning. That was something I noticed immediately. Teams consistently executed their system better in pro.
6. What’s the biggest thing you learned in your first pro stint with the Aces?
The biggest thing I learnt was the business side of hockey. Regardless of who you were or how long you had been around, if you were not performing you would not play. There was pressure on everyone to do their job or they would be replaced. I quickly learnt that guys were there to earn a living and move up in their careers. Every night you need to be at your best to stay in the lineup.
7. After leaving the Aces to go to the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, you moved again, this time to the Fort Wayne Komets, and excelled. Playing 50 games, and 14 in the postseason! How did you enjoy your time on the ice in Fort Wayne?
I loved playing in Fort Wayne. The Komets are a first class organization and treated us very well. The fans were top notch and always filled the rink to support us. We had a good team which made it even better. Most importantly though, my teammates were all great guys. We really came together as a team which translated on the ice.
8. Throughout the ECHL, which city is your favorite to travel to?
I would say Charleston, South Carolina is my favourite city to travel to. The restaurants are great, the weather is usually nice, and I have family friends that live nearby. I really enjoy the southern culture, it’s different from what I’ve lived in.
9. From ‘16 - ‘18 you played with Rampage, Comets, Eagles, and Raiders. And then you moved to France. How was your transition to France on and off of the ice?
It was a bit of a challenge to transition to France. I didn’t really know what to expect before getting there. Off the ice I found the language barrier the most difficult transition and it took a bit of time to adjust to the lifestyle. On the ice, it was a fairly quick transition. The style of game was different but I enjoy the new aspects and learning how to change my game.
10. When I look up ‘Justin Hamonic’ on YT, I see many of your fights. What’s your favorite fight that you’ve been in so far?
I don’t know if I can pinpoint one specific fight as my favourite. I guess I could say my favourites are the ones I haven’t lost. Haha.
11. Compared to America/Canada,, what is the level of play overseas like?
I would say it’s not as physical overseas but the pace is a little higher than the ECHL. I found the style in the Uk more similar than that in France. As far as level of play it’s all fairly comparable.
12. You’re now in Coventry, England, with the Coventry Blaze. How did this opportunity come about?
I connected with the coach in Coventry through a player who knew someone on the team the year before my first in Coventry.
13. England is known for soccer, and Coventry has a pro team in town. Have you been to any soccer games in England?
I have not been to a soccer game yet, although it is high on my list of things to do once we get back there. It’s hard not to take a liking to the sport while living in England.
14. Who’s your biggest role model and why?
I’ve always looked up to my parents. They are the ones who instilled all my values and traits in me.
15. In three words, describe yourself.
Dedicated, energetic, determined.
16. Do you have any other hobbies off the ice. If so, what are they?
I enjoy golfing in the summer. Lately I’ve been tackling quite a few projects around the house too.
17. Best player you’ve played against?
It’s hard to single out just one player but I would say the best player I’ve played against consistently would be Leon Draisiatl. Shea Theodore was great too.
18. Advice for young players working to go pro?
Enjoy every minute and have fun. Don’t think about the end goal, just think about improving everyday.
Huge thanks to Justin for the amazing interview! All the best with everything going forward! Stay healthy! Cheers!
Photo via https://www.juniorhockey.com