Garet Hunt will be fit, feisty and fighting — the Alaska Aces veteran winger last season led the ECHL in penalty minutes for the third time, and he has led the circuit three times in fighting majors.
He'll be on the ice early at practice and one of the last to leave the rink — Hunt will also get in ample gym time and augment his work with a stretching routine.
He's a pro's pro, and he'll enter his ninth season in the play-for-pay game after the Aces on Wednesday announced they have signed him and given him additional duties — Hunt will serve as coach Rob Murray's player-assistant coach.
"He's prepared every day," Murray said. "He's enthusiastic every day — regardless if it's a practice or game — and he's always very excited to play the game. I call him a positive leader. He's got a magnetic personality, and he'll pass my message to the team."
Coupled with the announced addition earlier this month of former Aces goaltender Gerald Coleman as the team's goalie coach, Murray will head into his sixth season as bench boss with support.
"I've got a couple of guys to lean on, to delegate things to, and to help keep things fresh," Murray said.
Informally, Hunt is also likely to be a strength and conditioning coach of sorts. Teammates and coaches have raved about his dedication for years, and Hunt's commitment sometimes rubs off on teammates.
His devotion has served him well. Though Hunt is 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, he is always willing — eager, actually — to take on any opponent, even if he's giving up six inches and 30 pounds.
Hunt last season led the ECHL with 277 penalty minutes. He contributed 11-12—23 totals in 61 games. He possesses speed, and that comes in handy on the penalty-killing unit.
"In a perfect world, he's a real good third-line winger who kills penalties and is a leader," Murray said.
The test for Hunt in the upcoming season will be to play with his usual edge without taking too many unnecessary or ill-timed penalties.
The Aces open training camp on Sept. 30.
The Aces have scheduled promotions for their exhibition games against the South Carolina Stingrays on Oct. 10 and 13.
The Oct. 10 game will feature a pet food and toy drive for the Alaska Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Oct. 13 game will feature a food drive for the Food Bank of Alaska. Contributions can be made 5-7 p.m. at Sullivan Arena both days.