Peter King’s love of hockey began in a rather unorthodox manner initially, before progressing to a more official version of the game. Like many of his AIHL brethren, the relationship between real life and hockey is often not entirely smooth sailing.
“I have played hockey for the total of 18 years. I started as a youngster in a modified game of Inline Hockey using a ball at the local recreation centre. I got into Inline Hockey and soon after, Ice Hockey,” said King.
“I first made the Adrenaline team at 18 years old (after 8 years of playing). Due to university and work, I had been in and out of the team for a few years. For the last few years though, I have been able to juggle work and hockey for the last few season and really focus on improving my game.”
Not only do his Adrenaline commitments impact working and personal life, but also commitments with his local IHSA team in Adelaide – often an untold story of many plying their trade in the semi-professional league.
“I play for Adelaide Blackhawks when I can. Games are usually pretty late and the next morning we have an optional 6am training with the Adrenaline. This season I am playing early games so I can attend the 6am training,” said King. “Outside of Adrenaline, I coordinate an Inline Hockey club (North Vikings) and I also run my own hockey shop (Skate Max). Between the three, plus full time work with the RAA in project management, I don’t really have time for anything else.”
King is one of the elder statesmen of not only the Adrenaline, but of the AIHL. Fittingly, King’s perspective of the past, present and future of the league is succinct but optimistic.
“The AIHL has come so far since I started playing and every team is a hard, competitive team. Everyone’s improving, and there is now more focus on the talent of local players as opposed to just relying on who has got the best imports. Each year the league gets better, despite the fact that some teams have folded,” said King. “The biggest challenge I think is providing enough competition at a national level to justify the need for better facilities across Australia. I think the league has done this rather well so far with both the AJIHL and AWIHL. This has created the opportunity for teams to be franchises and become more than just a team, but part of hockey development within their state.”
King also provided an interesting perspective on the business direction and growth of the league, particularly on the challenges local players face in terms of their professional growth within the sport.
“I think it would be great to see the AIHL provide a guide for teams on how to become a franchise within their state. This would filter down to player development as it is not just one team, it is a franchise of multiple teams under the one banner,” said King. “Professionalising the league would be one of the hardest and biggest improvements. The talent of local players would improve greatly if we had the opportunity just to focus on playing hockey. We have also lost a lot of great players to this level league as hockey in Australia isn’t a career. Professionalising hockey here would also increase the chances of local players making higher levels of hockey overseas.”
Adelaide is one of the smaller markets in the AIHL and has seen its fair share of upheaval, with the rise and fall of the Adelaide Avalanche to the Adelaide A’s, until settling into their current incarnation as the Adrenaline. King admits his involvement in the local hockey scene in South Australia is limited but has made the most of his time to contribute to the game where he can.
“To be honest, I am not a big part of the IHSA local scene, I live an hour away from the rink and this has stopped me from becoming involved at a local level. Instead, I formed an inline club close to home and I now have junior players crossing over from Inline to Ice Hockey,” said King.
“I think we just need more people involved to help in general, i.e. run more events, organise more promotions, etc. From the perspective of forming and coordinating an Inline club, one of the most difficult tasks is finding the free time to promote the sport and to get more people involved.”
Despite his busy schedule and the ups and downs during his time in the league, King treasures his time with the Adrenaline and is confident of his side’s form this season.
“We have a great team culture and a good bunch of players who are willing to support each other. This is carried on and off the ice and is one of the reasons why I like playing with the club,” said King. “All of the lads have put in a huge effort this season and I think we will go a long way and have a great season. We had a great start to the season and I think we can carry our form in finishing the season and heading into finals.”
And his view on the Stanley Cup Final is equally as interesting.
“I am tipping the Rangers this year but would like to see the Kings win it.”
What’s in a surname, right?