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One on One with: Steve Best

After making the transition from roller skates to ice skates, Adelaide Adrenaline forward Steve Best has cemented himself as an integral member on the ice. He went One on One with Tom Staggard to discuss the upcoming AIHL season and how he juggles his work with his hockey.

Tom Staggard: Can you tell me about how you started playing ice hockey?

Steve Best: I was originally an inline hockey player, which is basically the same but on roller skates.

When I was a teenager I made the transition onto the ice.

I had a few mates who were playing both and they convinced me to come out and it has pretty much gone from there.

TS: Is there a major difference between inline and ice? Was that transition easy or did you have a bit to learn?

SB: It’s not too bad.

The biggest difference is that inline is non-contact.

Coming over, the contact aspect was a real big thing for me.

I had to learn how to both hit and take hits.

(Ice hockey) is a lot faster and the gameplay is slightly different but other than that it’s pretty similar so it hasn’t been too hard.

TS: How long did you play inline for before making the switch?

SB: I played inline for about eight or nine years before I came across. I started when I was about seven and moved over when I was about 15.

PHOTO: Adelaide Adrenaline

TS: What kind of player are you and what is your role on this team?

SB: Over the years I have actually played a lot of different roles. This year I think the coach, and the team, need me to really step up and play a bigger role.

I see myself as a playmaker on the first line to set up guys like Ales (Kratoska) and Joey (Rezek) and get them the puck.

When I get a chance, I try to get pucks on net and score some goals as well.

I just try to focus on playing my game and making the guys around me better.

TS: Do you have much of a hockey background? Has anyone in your family previously played?

SB: Not really. My brother was the first one to start playing hockey so I just sort of followed him.

But other than that nobody in my family had really been into the sport.

My grandpa was a footballer and my mum was a gymnast so it was a new sport to the family.

TS: What was their reaction to you wanting to play hockey?

SB: I guess I was so young my parents probably thought I just wanted to try everything and anything.

Kids try every kind of sport and this one sort of stuck.

When I made the transition to ice they were thrilled about it.

I think they actually enjoyed me playing ice hockey more than inline.

PHOTO: Adelaide Adrenaline

TS: How long have you been playing with the Adrenaline?

SB: I’ve been with this team on and off for about six seasons now. I came to the team when I was 17 and I played for about a year and a half.

Then I travelled and played overseas for a bit.

I came back and had about a three or four year break and then I came back and have been here ever since.

TS: What was your first game out on the ice with the team like? Can you describe that feeling?

SB: It was really surreal.

I tried to go out there and treat it like any other game but as soon as I got out on the ice you look at the crowd and the stadium is full.

I was skating on the ice with guys like Greg Oddy and Josh Harding who are legends of the sport here in Adelaide.

It’s not daunting, but it’s an amazing feeling when you know you’re at that level and can play with people of that skill level.

I used to get really nervous but now that I’ve been doing it for a while it’s not so bad.

I love playing here.

TS: What do you do with yourself away from the ice?

SB: I mean hockey does take up a lot of my time. I coach inline and I still play a bit of inline so I’m pretty busy.

I don’t mind going to the gym and keeping in shape. I’m a roofer by trade so that can take up a bit of time too.

I guess I’m interested in a lot of things that people my age tend to like.

PHOTO: Adelaide Adrenaline

TS: How do you juggle your work life and your sport? Can that be difficult at times?

SB: It really can be at times. As a roofer, it’s a pretty physically demanding job so sometimes I’ll work a 9-10 hour day up on the roof, or I’ll work a massive week and then have to fly to Melbourne or Sydney, play that weekend and not have a rest.

That being said, I think if you just take care of yourself and don’t overdo it too much, you can balance it pretty well.

TS: Your coach, Jim Fuyarchuk, is well-known in hockey circles around the country. Can you describe his leadership and how that translates to players like yourself.

SB: You can just tell he knows a lot about the game.

He has been around the game for such a long time and he knows what he’s talking about.

Every time he talks the team listens and he’s got a real knack of being about to talk to each individual player in a way which is able to connect him with that individual.

He understands every player is different and coaches them accordingly.

He’s a pretty positive guy, he’s negative when he needs to be, but overall he tries to keep everyone positive which is something which this team has really needed.

TS: What would you say to people who may not know much about the team, or the sport, what they can expect when they watch the Adrenaline play?

SB: If they haven’t seen the sport then you’ve got to expect to see a really fast-paced, rough type of game.

It’s full contact and there is such a great atmosphere, especially in the Ice Arena, where you have grandstands on both sides.

Everyone I know who has been to a hockey game has said they enjoyed it and they get really into it, even if they don’t know the rules.

A lot of sports you can get into but because the atmosphere is so small and condensed you do feel like, as a fan, that you’re a big part of the game.

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Tom grew up in Adelaide’s northern suburbs and is our resident North American sports expert. Tom has experience as a working journalist and has a keen interest in basketball, ice hockey and American football, as well as cricket, soccer and football. He spent his junior cricket career at East Torrens District and has played for a number of football clubs across Adelaide’s north.