Monday 24 April 2017

'The lack of equipment was crazy' - Ice Hockey star Alex Auld on trying his hand at hurling

Alex Auld during his time with the Ottawa Senators
Alex Auld during his time with the Ottawa Senators

Former professional ice-hockey goaltender Alex Auld spent last week in Wexford with the Faythe Harriers club but was not willing to stand between the sticks in a hurling game

The 36-year-old had a 12-year professional career in the National Hockey League (NHL) but travelled to Ireland last week as part of the AIB documentary series, The Toughest Trade.

He swapped places with Wexford dual star Lee Chin who will join up with the Vancouver Canucks.

While he discovered similarities in the physicality and movement, Auld was surprised by some of the things he was allowed to do in hurling.

"Everyday I learned something new. You're in training and you're trying to do something and someone says, 'Just kick it' and I'm like 'I can kick it?' and I was trying to explain that to my nine-year-old son and he was fascinated by another rule and blown away by all the different things you can do," he told Matt Cooper on The Last Word on Today FM.

"By the end of the week, I just about had everything down. It's just fascinating."

As an ice-hockey goalie, Auld faced shots travelling over 100mph but admits that he was rarely injured by a puck.

He declined the chance to play in goals while in the southeast.

"I didn't play in goal. I thought the lack of equipment was a little crazy for me so I played out the field," he added.

"The one thing I noticed about the goalie here... in hockey, the goalie is basically a defensive position and in hurling there a lot less shots but the puck out is a big part of the game.

"I didn't realise that would be such an important part of it.

"I played full-forward. It was a lot of fun."

Auld believes that Chin will be capable of making an impression on his trip to Canada.

"If anyone can do it, it's him. I've heard a lot about him and what an incredible athlete he is and what a great person he is in that community and I think he'll do well."

Another fascinating aspect of the trip for Auld was the fact that all GAA players are amateurs.

"The fact that the guys have to get up and go to work the day after a match and balance a career in a sport that requires as much training as when you're playing professionally, plus a family. It's a real balancing act," he said.

"It is really unique."

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