With hockey being Canada’s national obsession, many kids grow up dreaming of donning the maple leaf, to one day play for Team Canada. Jared Eng is one of the lucky ones. He has represented his country on the highest stage — not in ice hockey, but in roller hockey at the world championships in Germany.
“It’s pretty special,” said Jared. “To wear the Team Canada jersey, it’s something you always dream of as a kid. I mean, it’s not the same as playing in the Olympics, but it’s still a good experience, and you get to play with some top-end players.”
Despite what he has achieved in inline hockey, his ice hockey career has a very familiar beginning.
“Well, growing up in Victoria they had the minor hockey team, the Panthers. And they had some good players, such as Jamie Benn and others who are in the NHL, and I remember them all playing roller hockey. I think it’s something where you can just rollerblade outside and it was similar to street hockey, except you just play on your rollerblades.”
He also said that it is good practice for ice hockey during the summer months. However, this is a matter of some debate. “I know that’s there a controversy, that some people say it’s bad for your skating stride,” he says.
“Personally, I think it’s only helped me in terms of my hands and patience. If you do play competitive, like I had with the option to go overseas and play with Team Canada, there’s some pretty talented hockey players there.”
Jared’s hockey career has not only taken him to Germany, but to the United States as well, where he played two years for the Sacred Heart Pioneers, an NCAA Division I school located in Fairfield, Connecticut. He played there for two seasons before deciding to come home and play for the SFU Clan in the BCIHL.
“[During] my two years at Sacred Heart, our team didn’t do so well, and things didn’t work out the way I wanted to and as the team wanted to. I just wanted to come back and play closer to home.”
It was also an adjustment to play in the BCIHL from the NCAA, and not just in terms of play style. “It’s a bit different. One, you’re wearing cages in the NCAA. And two, it’s a bit more scrambly, but at the same time you get some high end, young players who want to take more time to develop. I’d say there’s a difference of speed, but both leagues are very good.”
The Clan is fortunate that Jared decided to come home, as he has become one of SFU’s better defencemen the past two seasons. Last year, he led all defencemen on the team with 20 points in 23 games, he is following that up with another strong season, clocking 12 points in 21 games. He’s known for his ability to effortlessly move the puck up the ice, something that he identifies as one of his strengths.
“I think just being able to move the puck up to the forwards as quickly as I can, as well as being able to break out of the zone. I’d classify myself as a puck-moving, offensive defensemen, but I can take care of things in my own end, too,” Jared explains.
Playing at such a high level for as long as he has, you’re bound to work with some very excellent players. Most notably, he played with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Major Midget League. Ryan has gone on to a successful pro career with the Edmonton Oilers, after being drafted first overall in the 2011 NHL entry draft.
“When I was playing with him, I assumed he would be a pretty arrogant kid, being first overall in the WHL draft. But he’s one of the most approachable, nicest guys I’ve ever met. He’s a team-first guy, and he’s doing some special things in the NHL.”
You also don’t get as good as Jared is at a sport like hockey by being complacent. This is the reason he still has some big goals set for himself after his playing days at SFU.
“After playing for SFU, I would enjoy trying to go to Europe to play professional hockey. But it sort of depends how well we do this year, and the connections I make and who I know,” he notes.
He also would like to end the season in the BCIHL, by winning a championship: “It’s something that hasn’t happened in a little while here, but with the team we have, we can do it.”
Hockey players are notorious for being very superstitious, so it’s no surprise that Jared had one of his own. “If I’m not doing so well with black tape, I’ll change it up to white tape,” he says.