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From sewer ball to yogurt, a look at the Thunderbirds game day rituals

Before they hit the ice the Seattle Thunderbirds players follow a wide range of pregame rituals. (Brian Liesse/ T-Birds)

Hockey players like routine.

Whether it’s the equipment they use, the way they train, or even what time they take a nap before the game, it all factors into how they play. At least, that’s what they tell themselves.

Routine is one way to describe how players prepare to play. Ritual or superstition are other words that apply. Some stick to rigid schedules while others will kick the soccer ball around – a pregame staple known as ‘sewer ball’.

What do the Seattle Thunderbirds do on game day to get ready to hit the ice?

We talked to a handful of players to get a peek into their pregame rituals.

Payton Mount — Forward

“As soon as I get to the rink, I change into my game stuff, my undergear. I always tape my stick first, that’s the first thing. Started this year but (Athletic Trainer Phil Varney) got these waffle things, these energy things. I always go eat two of those before a game. They’re pretty good, I think I just eat them because they taste good. I go play sewer, I’m a big sewer guy. I stay loose, I’m always laughing with the guys in the room before the game, it helps me from being stressed out.”

Kai Uchacz – Forward

“I usually start with a nap before the game. I hop in the shower with the same country song, ‘Chicken Fried’, I always listen to that song. It gets me in the mood and then I do a little stretch at home. I eat and head to the rink and then I usually start with taping my sticks, putting my sticks out. I play soccer, sewer ball, and usually get one of those waffle cookies and get ready for the game.”

Cade McNelly – Defenseman

“It starts when I come to the rink. When I’m driving, I like to listen to heavy metal, rock out to heavy metal and turn it up all the way. There’s this song I like by Three Days Grace, it’s called ‘Chalk Outline’, I really like that song. That’s usually it.”

Owen Williams — Defenseman

“I’ve got a couple. Small things like I get a cup of water after warmups. Certain times I get ready at, put on certain pieces of equipment. I keep to a schedule. Nothing too crazy but I definitely have a few superstitions, I don’t like to unfold my towel. They’re kind of weird but they’ve developed over a couple of years. I have a routine on the road too, it depends on if it’s a day trip and we go early or if we have a day. I have a routine for every schedule.”

Luke Bateman — Defenseman

“At home, we have dinner about two hours before the game. I come here and tape my stick. I don’t really have anything special; I play sewer ball with the boys. I always get ready at 29 minutes before the game. Nothing too special like some of these crazy guys.”

Kelti Jeri-Leon — Forward

“I’m so superstitious. My preparation for a game starts with the night before. I think about the game, the little things and kind of get my mind into that game mentality. I wake up at the same time every game. I eat the same breakfast every game. It consists of four yogurts, doesn’t matter the flavor, a cup of granola and a cup of frozen berries.

“I’m always first at the rink, I’m here quite early actually. I have little things I do, I look at them as routines. One example people find weird is I can’t touch the sewer ball, the soccer ball, can’t get that anywhere near me. I can’t play with them at all or touch it. I look at it as a routine and try to visualize and use little things like taping my stick at the same time and I always get dressed in the same way.”

Matthew Rempe — Forward

“I make three eggs, scrambled with some cheese. I take a two-hour nap and get up, talk to my billets. I call my Mom. I get here pretty early, I tape my sticks early. I walk out to the ice and sit in one of the chairs by the glass and come back for our meeting. After the meeting I come out and sit in (a seat in the stands) for a bit, just tapping my stick and looking out at the ice.”

Roddy Ross – Goalie

“I change it up every now and then. I come up (into the stands) when I’m doing good and know I’m winning. I’ll do all the lines on the ice with my eyes, get the eyes warmed up. Otherwise, I’ll come down to the gate and play with my stick a little. I don’t think I have too many weird ones, I think I’m a simple goalie. I can’t think of any that are too crazy other than dressing from left to right.”

Conner Bruggen-Cate — Forward

“I eat the same thing, sleep at the same time. I try to not have too many in case anything happens I don’t want to be too superstitious where it throws me off my game. I get my coffee, tape my sticks and do my stretches, same stretches every game.”