Territorian: How Jordan Gavin and Mark Rummukainen got to the AIHL
Sunday, April 9, 2017 - Submitted by Georgia Briggs
When fans think of the CBR Brave and its players, one of the best things is the teams diversity and how that spreads to the Brave community. Young or… not so young, locals or imports, our team is full of wonderful men who put their hearts and bodies into the game we love to get the best for themselves their teammates and supporters.
Two guys who fit this mould to a tee are Mark Rummukainen and Jordie Gavin. They’ve been round the block both with the Brave and life as a whole and we can’t thank them enough for their years of service to date, and those still to come. We sat down with the two ‘veterans’ to discuss their careers, their lives and their legacy.
Every career starts somewhere, but Mark and Jordie had very different introductions to the ice hockey world:
Mark: "I started when I was 9. Dad’s from Finland and I think he played a bit as a kid over there and his insurance broker was Dave Lewis’ father. His sons were both playing and he said to Dad ’your son should be playing ice hockey‘ and Dad came home and said ’do you want to play” and I said 'yep’ and one week later I started playing. Fell in love with it."
Jordie: "“I started playing when I was maybe 17 or so. I started playing because I was originally playing inline hockey and it was a bit of a natural progression. Inline only being a semi contact sport and has less players on at a time, so there’s more room for people with higher skill sets, you can use your skills a lot more and not worry about someone running you over. Inline has always been a game of possession whereas ice hockey is a game of pressure."
A stark similarity in their careers and progression however has come from their State, National and International representation and experiences of the hockey world.
Mark: “I’d go to under 13s, 15s, under 17s State tournaments every year and obviously it helps. You get better and better each year. That got me onto national teams, senior teams, and I’ve won a few gold medals there and I’ve seen the world, seen the world playing the sport. I’ve got friends across the world and friends across this country because of this sport.”
Jordie: “I’ve represented my State [in inline and ice hockey] since probably I was 14 years old, so a long time. It was always good to go there and compete and learn. In terms of International representation, when I got the call that I made that team, that was a pretty big deal. Being in Melbourne, everyone wanted to play, to make that team when everyone was trying out, it was a big honour. We knew with the team we had we were quite capable of winning a gold medal, I went in pretty green as it was my first time on the team but being able to play and skate with some of those guys was probably my best memory I have in hockey, winning the gold medal in Melbourne. To win a gold medal in front of your friends and family was the best thing ever. My proudest moment in hockey for sure.”
They both attribute much of their skill and progress as a player to their time overseas, being able to refine their chosen sport:
Jordie: “I’ve been lucky enough to play in Finland and in the States as well. I had two stints in Finland and then I went over to Washington DC and played in the American Inline team. Every time you go over you learn so much and they have a different attitude to what we do here, different attitude towards training. They’re on the ice, at the rink, every day sometimes more than once, and they’re playing more than one game a week so because you’re exposed to so much hockey, you naturally improve and get better.”
Mark: “Learning different styles and techniques was massive. I played in Sweden, Finland and Canada when I was a junior. Different styles and coaching, you pick up different pieces here and there, everything affects the person you become. You figure out are you a physical player, are you more of a skills player, can you do certain things, different training styles, it all goes together.”
While Jordie acknowledges that there are far too many coaches and mentors over the years to chalk his skills up to a few names, Mark notes a few special people amongst the many who assisted him. These include the Harrow Brothers, who he recognises as a “massive influence on and off the ice” and particularly Darin Vetterl, who “took a small group of guys on a tour of Canada and the States, that had the biggest impact on me because at the time I was 11 years old and that opened my eyes to hockey across the planet.”
As for advice for younger players trying to make it to represent the Brave, their State or even their country as these two have, they have some sound advice:
Jordie: “I think ways that juniors can improve is to do a lot of off-ice stuff. Buy some roller blades and find a flat smooth surface to do that practice. So if you’re talking about junior development and how to get better and get better faster, just take advantage of any space you can find and just do as much as you can off the ice. John Kennedy with NSA stuff in Newcastle, he’s encouraging kids to get skates and find a tennis court or something and really work on the skills they can’t practice on the ice.”
Mark: “As people, it’s always to have respect, for people in the game, and that shows through. If you’re a d***head off the ice, you’re a d***head on the ice. In terms of skills, there’s obviously the skating and the stick handling and the shooting and things like that but learning how to play the game is a big one. I mean, I’m not sure how many people actually watch hockey. Get NHL, watch the game, see what certain people do in certain situations, see what certain positions do in situations, that helps them learn the game better.
“Just play. Play, play, play. Get on the ice as much as you can, if you can’t get on the ice at home shoot pucks at nets, stick handle with a ball, roller blade around, play games, watch hockey, if you love it and you want to get better at it you have to do as much as you can. Do what I did as a kid. Dave Lewis, Matti Luoma and myself have started a hockey operation called ‘Last Change Hockey’, look us up!”
Both agree that to progress the players and the game, new facilities are needed. “Better facilities are going to improve the skill, the quality and the fun.” *hint hint*
Although both our ‘veterans’ concede that eventually retirement must be on the cards, Brave fans will be seeing them on ice for a while yet and will see them around the ice for a good while longer:
Jordie: “I haven’t even thought about that [retirement]. Once I do, I definitely want to still be involved, but I think I’d be more interested in coaching at like a senior C, senior D level. I enjoy watching those guys and there’s so many teams now. I’ve thought about that, that’s what I’d like to do. But I’ll play for another 10 years so it’s not a worry yet [laughs]… maybe not 10 years.”
Mark, who wants a cake when he retires acknowledged that “as Matti Luoma would say I’m in ‘the autumn of my career’”. He laughed as he noted that “half a dozen people have already told me that I’m not playing this year, so I’m getting the heave-hoe.” But he says even though it’s inevitable, “I’ll be involved forever”.
As for the Brave season ahead, both leaders are pleased with the squad and the potential to make it back to the finals and hoist the Goodall Cup:
Jordie: “I think the Brave have got a lot to be proud of. Seeing where we finished last year, we’ve taken a lot of confidence from that and hopefully going to go one better this year. We’ve planned the recruiting this year, seen what we had and what we needed and I think it’s panned out pretty well. We’ll only see when everyone gets here and we’re all on the ice but we’ll see how we go.”
Mark: “We’ve got a lot of the same guys from last year, mostly the same faces, some guys have gone and have a new couple of imports and whatnot, but I feel pretty good about the squad we’ve got. I’m hoping we can get some fire from the loss last year, everyone wants to win it, everyone wants to go one better and not get so close and get a taste of it and have it disappear into the sunset so that will be the fuel.”
Brave fans will be especially pleased to know that both boys have their eye on the prize come September. Jordie: “It’s [training] definitely hard but if you’re looking at the Goodall Cup as the end goal, it’s worth it.” As Mark put: “If we can get there, we’ll win it. One better.”
Tickets to the home opener against the Newcastle North Stars on May 7 go on sale in within a fortnight, date to be confirmed.
If you're keen on starting hockey, the Ice Hockey ACT association is your best place to start. www.ihact.org.au