Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

The summer is in full-swing for most players in the Canadian Hockey League which means it's time for another look at how some of them are spending the work week.

As we quickly established in Episode 1 -- thanks to the eloquence of Belleville Bulls captain turned pot-hole-fixer Luke Judson — for many of the players who put aside hockey in order to make some pocket change with a summer job: "the real world kinda sucks."

That's the general consensus.

Another prevalent theme for the juniors interviewed here for this project is the kind of motivation working a real job gives players once it's time to lace up the skates. For Vancouver Giants defenceman Wes Vannieuwenhuizen, who works in maintenance at a meat packing plant, the goal is to keep the hockey season alive at all costs because victory smells much sweeter than freshly butchered meat.

"Whenever you can stay in the playoffs and stay away from kinda the real world jobs, you're doing pretty well for yourself," says Vannieuwenhuizen.

So here's the second installment of our series on how some players across the CHL are spending their summers…

Tyler Brown

Kingston Frontenacs forward Tyler Brown works the corners in the IKEA warehouse.

Tyler Brown  (Kingston Frontenacs)
IKEA warehouse — Canton, Michigan:

The next time you decide to buy your AKURUM-Ramsjö-FÖRHÖJA Kitchen from IKEA, say a small prayer for Kingston Frontenacs forward Tyler Brown -- he's the guy in the warehouse who has to put all those pieces together to fill the order.

"We have kitchens which are like 200-piece orders which we have to go and pull," says Brown who expects to return to Kingston as an overager. "It takes an hour to do one of them. It's pretty bad."

Luckily the warehouse is categorized using an eight-digit code rather than the crazy sounding uber-Swedish names IKEA loves to give its products.

"I don't know how to pronounce any of the names," admits the OHL veteran who has played for his hometown Plymouth Whalers and London Knights.

Still, it's not as bad as last summer where he had to load cars for customers, which included some Windsor Spitfires fans who had come for a little cross-boarder shopping.

"They were talking about how they had just won the Memorial Cup and how they had just come from an autograph signing," says the native of Westland, Mich. "That was kind of upsetting."

Brown says he spent the first few weeks of the summer jobless and found himself getting bored, so he enjoys having some place to go, making a little extra money and hanging out with his best friend who also works at the store — even if that means getting the gears from some of his former London teammates.

"They would always make fun of me for working at IKEA," says Brown, of his friends on the Knights. "They'd send me a Facebook wallpost like, 'How's IKEA going?' it was pretty funny."


Good things happen when QMJHL veteran Cam Critchlow goes to the slot.

Cameron Critchlow (Victoriaville Tigres)
Slot Attendant — Moncton, New Brunswick:

As the former captain of the now-defunct Lewiston Maineiacs, Cameron Critchlow knows all about suffering a bad beat. Yet, in his summer job  as a slot attendant at Casino New Brunswick, this kid's  pure money.

"If someone wins a jackpot I'll pay them out and take care of that procedure," says the 19-year-old. "If a machine isn't working properly I'll go and take a look at it.

"It's a pretty fun job, it's some extra money in the summer and it also gives you a little motivation to work hard at something other than hockey. "

The veteran winger says the biggest jackpot he's seen payout was when some lucky slot jockey won $20,000.

"It was pretty cool just to see everything happen," he says.

But, surprisingly, not everyone is super thrilled to see Critchlow cut them a fat cheque.

"Some aren't as excited as others, just because they've already sunk so much into the machines. You never know what situation the person is in when you go to pay them out," says the Moncton resident.

"You try to be subtle, but excited for them, because they might have lost more than they've won ...  gambling is not always a good thing for people."

It might be a good thing then, that as an employee, Critchlow isn't allowed to be on the casino floor unless he's working. Still, he says he enjoys walking around and the ability to see many of the concerts that the casino puts on.

The toughest thing about his job are the hours which can include the graveyard shift and the responsibility of being in charge of large amounts of cold, hard cash.

"If you make a mistake you can lose your job -- it's pretty serious," explains Critchlow. "It's money right? So you have to be very careful in everything you do."

The Real World: CHL summer job edition 2

No photos of forward Spencer Asuchak's short-lived roofing career actually exist.

Spencer Asuchak (Prince George Cougars)
Roofer/Odd Jobs - Kamloops, B.C.:

Luckily for the Prince George Cougars, Spencer Asuchak's WHL career has lasted a lot longer than his roofing career.

"One day and then I retired from it," says the veteran winger of his shingle life. "It was raining, the roof was pretty slippery and everything was pretty heavy."

The worst part says the 6-foot-4, 215-pound behemoth was having to hunch over to use his tools, resulting in a lot of pain.

"My back just screaming at me it was so sore," says the 19-year-old. "I didn't think I would able to walk."

Asuchak's  been spending most of his time doing odd jobs that fit around training at the gym, where he spends three hours each morning.

"It's mostly pulling weeds and digging holes for people," says the 17-goal scorer of the work. "I love being outside, the nice weather. I like doing physical work, I'd rather do that than sit around.

"I can't sit still that long."

Sunaya Sapurji is the Junior Hockey Editor at Yahoo! Sports.
Email: Twitter: @Sunayas

Related Articles

Buzzing The Net

Add to My Yahoo RSS

Blog Roll

Featured Sports Video