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“THE PERSONALITY OF HOCKEY”

Thursday, February 27th
“THE PERSONALITY OF HOCKEY”

On the surface, literally and figuratively, hockey is a unique sport. It’s played on a sheet of ice with large human beings armed with sticks utilizing the mental agility of a brain surgeon that are skating almost 35 miles-per-hour on a piece of steel an eighth of an inch think, to paraphrase Hockey Hall of Famer, Brendan Shanahan.

Deep past the surface of the sport lies a more unique aspect, specifically in the dressing room, and the conversation that takes place in it. Of the many distinctive traits of hockey, one of the more interesting ones is that business is nearly dealt with on almost a nickname-only basis with the people involved from the front office all the way down to the locker room and hockey ops.

Sports are full of nicknames, whether the public is aware of them or not. Major League Baseball Hall of Famer, Frank Thomas, was known internationally as “The Big Hurt”. Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski is known as “Coach K” throughout all levels of basketball. Hockey Hall of Famers Pavel Bure (“The Russian Rocket”), Mario Lemieux (“Super Mario”), and Wayne Gretzky (“The Great One”) all had their monikers that are just as immortal as their storied careers.

This Friday, loyal members of Rush Nation will see firsthand the nicknames that are tossed around the dressing room on a daily basis. They’ll be on the name bars on the back of the team’s red jerseys for everyone to see as the team opens up their series against the Tulsa Oilers.

For some names, they come from a funny story on or off the ice that the player will never live down, or are given because of a likeness to something in pop culture. For others, they’re more formulaic: you take a player’s last name and cut it in half, then add either “s”, “zy”, “er”, or, depending on how it rings, nothing to it. My nickname, for example, is “Binner”. Cut Binetti in half (Bin), add an “er”, and you get “Binner”. I’ve also been called “Radio” as well, simply because I’m the radio broadcaster. Assistant Coach Jeremy Gates will take it a step further and refer to me as “Binnasty” on a regular basis. The list goes on and on.

Here is what each player will sport for a nickname on Friday, along with some insight and a few funny stories as to how your favorite Rush players and staff members received their nicknames:

Head Coach Daniel Tetrault: “Tetsy”, or “The Tetonator”

“Everyone has called me ‘Tetsy’ for as long as I’ve been playing, but I earned the name ‘The Tetonator’ during my rookie season with the WPHL’s Austin Ice Bats in 2000-01. It sounded like ‘The Terminator’, and everyone on my team liked the movie. I had a thunderous hip check too and was strong like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played the Terminator. My teammates started to call me ‘The Tetonator’ and it’s stuck ever since!”

Assistant Coach Jeremy Gates: “Gatesy”, or “Gator”

“‘Gatesy’ is an easy name for me, but most people call me ‘Gator’. The story surrounding that is funny because I don’t really remember it, to be honest. According to Coach Tetrault, who was my Rush teammate and d-partner in the 2014-15 season, I was sitting next to Justin Faryna in the dressing room. I was brand new to the Rush that season on a call-up from the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers. ‘Farns’, as we called him, was asking me what my nickname was. I told him ‘Well most people call me ‘Gatesy’, but, I don’t know, you can call me ‘Gator’, and the whole room exploded in laughter. Coach still hasn’t let me live that down six years later, telling people sometimes as he introduces me ‘His name is Jeremy, but you can call him Gator’. Later that season, I scored my only goal of the year with the Rush in Tulsa, and as I celebrated to the bench I did the gator chomp with my arms. So, I guess you can call me ‘Gator’.”

#4 Chris Leibinger: “Binger”

#6 Eric Israel: “Izzy”

#8 Peter Quenneville: “Q”

#9 Beau McCue: “Wrangler”

“Seeing as how ‘Q’ (or ‘Cue’ as I’d spell it, for obvious reasons) was taken, I’m going with ‘Wrangler’ this week. The guys call me that not only because I’m from Montana originally, but also because all I wear are Wrangler jeans.”

#11 Stephane Legault: “Sticks”

“I normally go by ‘Legs’, but this is a play off of my number, 11. Two ones look like two sticks. I can’t remember who it was, but someone just happened to call me ‘Sticks’ one time in practice and it never left. You could say that ‘Sticks’ stuck.”

#13 Josh Elmes: “Nightmare”

“My name is taken after the horror movie ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’. Except, when Tulsa comes to town, it’ll be ‘Nightmare on Elmes Street’.”

#14 Tyler Coulter: “Colt 45”

“When I played in Sweden last season, the guys in the room asked me what I go by. I told them ‘Coults’, which is what I’ve been called almost my whole hockey life, but they had trouble saying that. What they didn’t have trouble saying was ‘Colt 45’, which is an Afroman rap. ‘Said Colt 45 and two Zigzags…’ is the lyric to the rap, and they played it nonstop, so it stuck.”

#15 Keeghan Howdeshell: “Cowboy”

“Normally, the guys call me ‘Howdy’, but they started calling me ‘Cowboy’, because cowboys say ‘howdy’, so it just stuck!”

#18 Garrett Milan: “Milzy”

#19 Tanner Karty: “Mario Karts”

“I normally go by ‘Karts’, but the guys in the room said that was too boring for this game. We threw a few names around and ultimately fell on ‘Mario Karts’, which made us all laugh. I had to go with that one afterwards. I mean, let’s be honest, it’s a really fun video game too!”

#20 Brennan Saulnier: “Two-Bagel”

“The nickname ‘Two-Bagel’ is a play on my number, the number two and zero, resembling a bagel. It’s funny, when I was in junior I had the number 10, so my teammates instinctively called me ‘Stick-Bagel’. I come here, get number 20, and now I’m ‘Two-Bagel’. Pretty funny how this all comes around with the nicknames.”

#21 Cedric Montminy: “Mo”

#22 Taylor Crunk: “Crunk Yard Dog”

“Last year, the Rush picked me up at the trade deadline in early March. I’ve gone by ‘Crunker’ almost my whole hockey career, but our former Assistant Coach immediately called me ‘The Crunk Yard Dog’. It’s always been one of my favorite names I’ve had over the course of my career.”

#23 Matteo Gennaro: “Geno”

#24 Matt Ustaski: “Big Uzi”

“When I first came to the Rush last month, the very first question I got was ‘What do we call you?’ Well, I’ve never really had a nickname that’s been with me my whole life like most of my teammates do, so they just started throwing out all these random names in the hopes that one would stick. Eventually, they got to ‘Big Uzi’ and made the comparison that it’s just like the rapper Lil Uzi Vert. Considering I’m a big guy, they stayed with ‘Big Uzi’, and it’s been with me since I got to Rapid City.”

#28 Dane Birks: “Birksy”

#29 Darian Romanko: “Romo”

#31 Merrick Madsen: “Mad Dog”

“I’ve had so many nicknames in my life, it’s not even funny. I’ll be perfectly honest though, only Crunker and a few other people call me ‘Mad Dog’. It seemed more fun to choose that then ‘Mads’, and ‘Merrickle’ was a tad bit cocky for a guy that’s only played six games this season. My dad was actually called ‘Mad Dog’ more when he was younger, so I’m happy to carry that mantle into this weekend.”

#35 Alex Sakellaropoulos: “Saks”

“There’s obviously no story to my nickname. It’s insanely formulaic by hockey standards. I just think it’s absolutely hilarious that I go from the longest name bar on the team at 15 letters to the fourth-shortest one behind ‘Q’, ‘Mo’, and ‘Sal’.”

#39 Gordon Defiel: “Night King”

“This is a long story and gets kind of deep, so bear with me on it. I think everyone has an ego, and in most cases, the ego can be an enemy to people. When I got to college at Lake Superior State, I did really well in net and had a great college career. People started to pump my tires and it inflated my ego a bit. When I turned pro, I thought I’d take the professional ranks by storm, only to be humbled and knocked down a few pegs. I watch ‘Game of Thrones’ quite a bit, and the story of the Night King is that he was a human that died, but was reincarnated as the Night King. He cared about nothing else in his new life but executing. So, I threw away my ego and came back as ‘The Night King’, because all I care about now, more than anything, is executing and winning. That’s also why I have the Night King on the side of my helmet.”

#41 Tyler Parks: “Parksy”

#44 Ryker Killins: “Killer”

#49 Dante Salituro: “Sal”

#93 Brandon Fehd: “Fehder”

##########

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