Mak Barden talks SFU hockey club . . . and Christmas

We sit down with one of SFU hockey club’s star forwards

Mak Barden has two goals and six assists eight games into the season. Israrul Haque / The Peak

Year: Senior

Major: Communications

Hometown: Surrey, BC

Favourite Christmas movie: Elf

Mak Barden and the SFU hockey club have gotten off to a great start in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League, with a 6–4 record. Barden is currently tied for second on the team with 1.0 points per game (eight points in eight games). He was named the ANYTHING BRANDED Player of the Week, after a four-assist night against Vancouver Island University on Remembrance Day. Read more to find out more about his thoughts on the SFU hockey club and Christmas

The Peak: Why SFU?

Mak Barden: I initially transferred here from Arizona State, where I spent just one year. I heard a lot of good things, a lot of good reputations coming from the schooling aspect [of SFU]. I got in contact with the [SFU hockey] coach Mark Coletta and he reassured me that it was a good fit school-wise and hockey-wise.

P: How was Arizona when you went there?

M: It was a good experience for sure, moving away to a different type of culture [and] different schooling. It came with its own set of demands and it was definitely a much different experience than schooling up here, but it was good.

P: How do you think playing as a club differs from being recognized by SFU Athletics?

M: I think we’ve made some big strides in the last 3–5 years of trying to develop a little bit more recognition to the program and it’s really taken off and gotten there. We’re not really recognized by the school as much as we would like to be but I think we’re on the upswing of things and we’re making some good strides in order to be successful as a program.

P: How did you get into hockey?

M: It was at a very young age, my whole family was involved. [I was] basically in skates by the time I could walk so it was just instilled upon me at a young age and I rolled with it and I love it.

P: Being young and playing hockey, how was it waking up for all those early practices?

M: The early ones were definitely a little more of a dagger to my parents, I think, than to me. When you’re younger, 7, 8, 9, 10, you’re just looking for any excuse to get to the rink so you don’t mind waking up at six o’clock in the morning, but the parents definitely sacrificed a little more than we did.

P: Towards the team a little bit; who’s the funniest guy in the locker room?

M: I have to say Eric Callegari, he’s a pretty funny guy. He’s a rookie on the team this year but we had his brother on the team last year and he’s a quieter guy, but [Eric] definitely brings a bit of life to the dressing room.

P: You guys have gotten off to a pretty good start this season. Where do you put the expectations this year on the team?

M: I think the last couple of years that I’ve been part of the program, we’ve had very high expectations, if not to win [we wanted to] be right there [. . .] [this year] we have a [few] more veterans, guys that have been around the program and the school for the last couple of years now. So, I think this is definitely the time to [win the championship] if we’re gonna do it, with a lot of guys [in their last year, Mak Barden included]. Everyone’s on board, younger guys and older guys, and I think everything is starting to come together really well. We started really well, and now we’re starting to find our groove.

P: Who do you guys see as your rival in the BCIHL?

M: I have to say Trinity Western. [They’re] definitely a good opponent and they’re in close proximity, so there’s a good rivalry between the schools [. . .] We do play them four or five times [a] year so it gets pretty heated [. . .] and it hurts a little bit more if we lose to those guys.

P: How has it been balancing hockey with school?

M: It’s definitely a big commitment. I think guys understand that when they make a commitment at the end of the year to be a part of both programs: school and hockey. I think we’re aware of it at the beginning of the year [. . .] We’ve got a support system around us and other guys on the team that you can lean on, coaches, and a good tutoring system if you need it. It’s definitely a balance, but with the maturity of the guys [on the team] I think we can definitely handle it.

P: A bit more on school, what has been your favourite class so far here at SFU and why?

M: Being a communications major I’ve enjoyed a lot of the media classes that I’ve taken. A couple of [international studies] classes I’ve shown interest in. World history, world lit, that sort of thing. Communications and applying the media field to business is something that’s going to be important later on in life.

P: With Christmas around the corner, when do you think it’s acceptable to start listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, and doing Christmas things?

M: A lot of people have that Remembrance Day rule which I like, but, the tree and decorations [are] the last things to come in around early December, late November. As soon as mid-November hits, the Christmas carols start coming out and the TV starts revering those types of shows and movies. My sister loves all those cheesy Christmas movies so they’re on in my house all the time.

P: So what are you getting up to for the holidays this year?

M: We’re pretty fortunate with the hockey program. We have like a three week break so obviously with the huge load that we go through [during] the year with hockey and school it’s definitely going to be nice to just have two to three weeks by myself and just recoup and get my body back to [where it needs to be]. Just to have some time with friends and enjoy socializing.

P: What’s the most interesting Christmas present you’ve ever gotten?

M: It was always a joke back in the day, my grandpa when I was young, he — [as part of] the infamous Scottish family — was gonna get me a kilt for Christmas. I thought he was always joking about it, and then one Christmas he actually ended up giving [one] to me as a joke. The funniest part about it was he wrapped it up, putting ounces and pounds of tape around it, and making it so difficult to get into and once I finally did get into it it was a joke of a Christmas present. It was kind of demoralizing but at the same time [I] appreciated the joke. That was one of the funnier ones. I was upset at the time, I was 10, but at the same time now I really appreciate that.

Athlete’s corner: I wanted to give some recognition to the hockey program and how it’s taken off the last couple of years. Mark Coletta (head coach) and Chris Munshaw (director of hockey operations) have taken the bull by the horns, so to speak. Considering where [the program] was 10–15 years ago to where it is now speaks wonders about the seriousness [of] the program that we’re trying to become. Eventually, recognition from the school is the main goal. There are financial aspects of that as well, but we want to have the fundamental building blocks: good grades [and] recognized as a smart, mature group of guys when we go on the road. Everyone’s aware of what they have to do, and we all want to make this program go in the right direction as it has been the last few years. The ultimate goal is being recognized as NCAA hockey and representing the school. We do see ourselves as a program recognized by the school, that’s how we act, that’s how we want to be approached, but we want to make that official.