To hear Ben Hanowski, Corban Knight and Josh Jooris tell it, the off-ice lives of rookie professional hockey players contain a lot of very mature, sophisticated elements.
To wit: an emphasis on proper nutrition, carpooling to work, staying active away from the rink, and the like.
But it’s all seasoned by gleefully immature shenanigans which are the natural byproduct when a trio of 23-year-olds share a house together.
“It’s pretty magical,” Hanowski said with a chuckle. “We’re obviously first-year pros, no spouses or anything, and we’re just kind of hanging out. It feels a little bit like college, where you have a couple roommates. It’s just nice to not always be by yourself and have other people to hang out with.”
Hanowski paused a beat.
“Even if one of them is Corban,” he added, as Knight and Jooris cracked up.
The Hanowski-Knight-Jooris triumvirate have more in common than just their age and rookie status. They’re all recent NCAA grads – Hanowski went to St. Cloud State, Knight to North Dakota, Jooris to Union College – who were acquired by the NHL parent Calgary Flames within the last 10 months.
They conceived of their current living arrangement back in September at the Young Stars prospects tournament in Penticton – Hanowski and Jooris were roommates and, in Jooris’s words, “thought we’d have a nice home together.” They added Knight to the crew, and rented the upper suite of a house after being assigned to the Abbotsford Heat later in the month.
Hanowski gave his Twitter followers a glimpse into the goofy vibe at their abode on Dec. 1, when he tweeted a heartwarming photo of the trio posing alongside personalized Christmas stockings, which were hung by the chimney with care (see photo, above).
“We’re kind of the party house, but no one ever comes over,” Knight said, eliciting more cackles from the others. “It’s just us three partying together.
“There’s always someone terrorizing another guy, and the other guy laughing. There’s a lot of jokes that go on in the house.”
From the sounds of things, Hanowski is responsible for most of the pot-stirring. He occupies the master bedroom – a fact he attributes to his alpha male status, but which Jooris quickly clarifies was won in a game of mini golf during training camp.
“He beat me in a three-hole playoff – tough loss,” Jooris acknowledged with a wince.
“Hano’s got alter egos,” he continued. “I don’t know if I really want to go into detail on those, but he kind of scares me.
“There was one night where Hano wouldn’t let Knighter go to sleep unless he let him tuck him in.”
To which Hanowski scoffs.
“I live with two princesses, basically,” he asserted. “I just strike a little fear in them and cement myself as the alpha male of the house. You just heard them say how scared they get, right?”
Knight and Jooris have their own idiosyncrasies. They’re really into the dynasty mode of the NHL 14 video game, playing together as the Calgary Flames, naturally. The game features full NHL and AHL rosters, allowing the players to virtually recall themselves from the minors.
“We called Knighter up early and he really solidified his spot (on the NHL roster),” Jooris said. “I got too cocky. My guy was doing real well down in the minors and I called him up, and he had a tough couple games so I had to send him back down.”
“He’s hard on himself,” Knight chimed in.
Recently, Hanowski was startled to hear an outburst of noise from the living room.
“They were making a big push for the playoffs (in NHL 14) and had a couple big wins, and there might have been some hugs thrown around,” he said, shaking his head.
“We were pretty into it,” Knight acknowledged. “It was like winning the Stanley Cup. We were hugging, screaming, running around the house.”
As for the mundane domestic tasks, the trio handle their business reasonably well. They keep the place pretty tidy, at least by young male standards, and do their own cooking and shopping.
But even within a discussion of their shopping habits, Hanowski is able to mine chirping material.
“We were grocery shopping today, and [Jooris] was looking at my cart, like, ‘What did y’all get?'” Hanowski said with a chuckle. “And then he went and got the exact same things and put them in his cart.”
Heat head coach Troy Ward, asked what he imagines life in the Hanowski/Knight/Jooris house might be like, likens them to the Three Stooges.
“I don’t know who Larry is, I don’t know who Moe is, and I don’t know who Curly is, but that’s the three of them, right there,” he said. “They’re kind of all a little bit goofy, and they’re all a little bit off.
“I can imagine them all standing in Save-On-Foods in the same line, and I think the cashier would hear all three voices at once.”
Jokes aside, the trio believe that their shared off-ice experience has helped them transition to pro hockey.
“It helps keep your mind off the game when you need a break,” Hanowski said. “If you’re not living with guys and you’re at home and you’re struggling, you’re moping and being negative. But with us, we’re always having fun, and that keeps things light.”
Roommates Josh Jooris, Ben Hanowski and Corban Knight occasionally play together on the same line. (Clint Trahan photos / Abbotsford Heat)