On Sunday October 7, Mike Petizian and a couple of his teammates headed to downtown Kitchener to visit with Hometown Hockey hosts, Tara Sloan and Ron MacLean, in the broadcast booth.
“We were filming a segment and Ron asked us to describe ourselves as a player and I answered with ‘I’m a bit of a sparkplug’,” laughed Mike. “I have one thing to say to Ron MacLean and I tell him I’m a sparkplug.”
The 5’6, 165lb self-proclaimed spark plug is no stranger to going hard on the puck and leaving everything on the ice. But, being a high-energy player, like Petizian, isn’t an easy gig. Pushing yourself to go hard even after the toughest of games can be exhausting.
“Going hard every game is kind of a thankless job, and it’s sometimes hard to be motivated to do that,” said Petizian. “Everyone wants to be a big goal scorer, myself included, but I just need to keep pushing hard every game and help my team in any way I can. The goals will come.”
Only being in his second season as a blueshirt, he has achieved some major milestones with the team.
“Not a lot of people can say they were in the Western Conference finals during their hockey career, so being in it as a rookie was pretty cool,” he said with a smile. “That was a major accomplishment for me.”
Now coming into his second campaign, Mike knows what is expected of him and his teammates. During the off-season, Mike had to overcome some adversities following his shoulder surgery. Petizian would normally spend his summers in the gym and on the ice, but instead he had to recover before he could step back out into the rink.
“With my surgery this year it was very difficult for me during the off season and it has impacted me a bit,” Mike said. “Surgery is a major setback, but I am just trying to work through it.”
But Mike isn’t alone. Teammate, Connor Hall went through the same surgery as Petizian—it hasn’t gone as well for Connor though.
“With Connor being hurt again after his surgery, it creeps into my head that it can happen again to me,” said MIke. “It was bad enough happening once, I can’t imagine going through it multiple times like he did.”
Having a seasoned vet like Connor to look up to has helped Mike push past those thoughts and just focus on the present, rather than the ‘what-ifs’.
“We don’t talk about it much, but he always motivates me and tells me don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine. You’re a machine.”
Every milestone, no matter the size, following a setback needs to be celebrated and Mike is no exception to this rule.
“Coming back after my surgery this year and getting my first goal in my first game was pretty cool for me,” smiled Mike. “I was pumped, but I just want those goals to keep coming. “
Mike knows this season is going to be an up-hill battle, but he is confident in himself and his teammates that they can push through and be successful.
“We are a lot younger this year, a bunch of older guys are gone so it makes it harder, but now we have to step up,” said Petizian. “It is nice to see guys like Hugg, Damiani and Meireles step up in these situations.”
Ron MacLean may always remember Mike as the Kitchener Rangers ‘sparkplug’, but how many people can say Mr.MacLean remembers them at all?