After a severe knee injury, Matt Harvey knew it was unlikely that he would play ice hockey again. Even when he tried to return to the sport he loved, he was forced to stop midseason due to the excruciating pain. So how did he come to play for the CBR Brave and lead them to their first ever Goodall Cup last year?
Lachlan Roberts caught up with Harvey to hear how the man, affectionately dubbed ‘Wombat’ acquired his nickname, how he came to write a novella and start his own apparel company and why he signed with the Brave.
Why did you sign with the CBR Brave in 2014?
“In 2014, I was coming back from the knee injury at the time and I had an inkling to play hockey again. I had an old friend from my home town who used to play in the AIHL with the Gold Coast Blue Tongues back in the day. Playing in Australia was on my bucket list and so when my knee got better, it was a source of passion for me and was always something I wanted to do.
“So I contacted pretty much every team in the league and they all had full rosters and then I talked to Canberra. They said they were trying to get a team sorted out, which they did and then it all worked out for me. I am not sure if it was luck or fate.”
Why is your nickname Wombat?
“My teammate Petri Pitkänen during my first year showed me what a wombat was because he had been to the zoo. I thought they were a cool animal and so was interested in learning about them. Mike Giorgi was involved in the conversation so he started calling me that and it stuck.”
Why did you choose jersey number 81?
“My original number is 17 because it is my birthday. When I came here, Jimmy Byers wore 17 so I played around with numbers. It was kind of a superstition that if we didn’t win the Cup with that number I would change my jersey the next season. So I have worn several numbers since I have been here but I guess after last year’s success while I was wearing 81, I decided to keep it this season.”
What is your favourite food?
“Poutine and chicken wings.”
Are you a superstitious person?
“I am consistently working on not being too superstitious. When I was younger, I was really pedantic and OCD about rituals and routines before games but as I have gotten older, I have learned to shut a lot of those things off.”
What was the inspiration behind your 76-page short story “A Hockey Nightmare“?
“When I did my knee, I had about a year-and-a-half from work and everything else. I am not the type of person to get bored lying in bed so I decided that I would write a book, which was also on my bucket list. I had this idea based on the time I spent in Austria playing hockey there, mixed with elements of fantasy and organised crime.”
How many siblings do you have?
“I have four siblings – two brothers and two sisters. I am the middle child so I had two forms of growing up. There was an eight-year gap between me and the next youngest so I lived a life as the youngest child and then the oldest child when I grew up.”
What is your favourite movie?
What is the name of your hockey apparel company?
“Since I moved to Australia, I started a hockey apparel company. Its called spicydangles. The meaning behind it is that dangles is a Canadian ice hockey term which is when you move with the puck through a defender.”
What is the best advice that you received growing up?
“My mother told me ‘Never stop growing’. She always told me that if I ever wanted to do something or take chances, don’t let anything hold you back and make sure any inkling that you have to explore the world, you take it.”
Don’t miss the CBR Brave’s first home game of the 2019 season on 4 May, when the Brave host the Sydney Bears in a grand final rematch at Phillip Ice Skating Centre.