Hamonic returns to Winnipeg

The Isles defenseman returns to play a game where he grew up, playing an NHL game in his home town for the first time

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 12:52 PM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
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Hamonic returns to Winnipeg
Like many kids in Canada who dream of playing in the National Hockey League, Travis Hamonic left his home at age 16 to play junior hockey. Five years later, in his second season with the Islanders, not being home for the holidays and seeing his siblings, nieces and nephews only a few times each year is the norm.

One thing is very different this season, though. Last year, the Isles would have been headed to Atlanta, Georgia for Tuesday night’s game. This time, the Isles defenseman returns to Winnipeg to play an NHL game in his home province for the first time, as the NHL returned a franchise to Winnipeg after a 15-year absence. Hamonic grew up a die-hard Winnipeg Jets fan before the franchise moved to Phoenix in 1996, when Hamonic was six-years-old.

Travis Hamonic skates against the Chicago Blackhawks at  Nassau Coliseum on December 8, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
“It’s going be a dream come true,” Hamonic said of playing so close to home Tuesday night. “I grew up a huge NHL fan and having a chance to play an NHL game in my home province like that, so close to home, it’s exciting. It’s going to be an exciting time for me, but maybe even more so for my family.”

Growing up on a farm an hour south of Manitoba’s capital, family has always been a big part of Hamonic’s life. He left that farm at age 14 to move to Winnipeg and shoot for his dream on the ice. So being able to spend this moment with between 80-100 of his closest family and friends is a moment he’ll remember forever.

“It’s nice to have my family and friends come out and support me,” Hamonic said. “They’ve supported me throughout my career, so this is just an exciting opportunity to play a game in front of a lot of people that wouldn’t have the opportunity to come watch me play in New York.

“For example, my grandparents, they are thrilled and they are both old and traveling isn’t the easiest thing on them. So this might be one of the only times this year they’ll see me play live. They are obviously very excited.”

So even though Hamonic shelled out some big bucks to bring everyone important in his life to the game, he said it is worth it.

“With our schedule the way it is, I won’t have an opportunity to come home for Christmas this year, so it’s nice with this game being so close to Christmas,” Hamonic said. “My brother will be there, my sisters will be there, my nieces and nephews will be there, my grandparents, everyone will be there.”

Islanders d-man Travis Hamonic rides an ATV during his youth in St. Malo, Manitoba.
Sunday night, Hamonic shared a home-cooked meal with his family. But when he wakes up Tuesday morning, it's game day and he will be focused.

“It’s an exciting time, but come Tuesday, all that’s put aside,” Hamonic said. “By no means is this a vacation for me. It’s a business trip and I have to approach it that way. Come Tuesday, it’s business as usual and I’m looking forward to a big game. We want to come out with the big points. That’s going to be a big conference rival for us right now.”

That rivalry may dwindle next year as the NHL realigns. The Isles will make an annual trip to the ‘Peg, but will only face the Jets twice a year as opposed to the four contests they have this year. For this season, Hamonic and the Isles can make his return to Manitoba even sweeter.

Welcome home Travis.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
M. Neuvirth 1 3 1 .881 2.94

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