Hawks’ forward attracts hockey world’s attention

by | Jan 24, 2020 | Feature, Sports

Kyle Drinnan, Sports Reporter

Humber Hawks’ hockey player Johnny Ruppert got a late gift on Boxing Day as he saw his goal on the NHL social media platforms.

Humber doesn’t have a varsity hockey team. However, it does have an extramural team that competes in tournaments all season and in November 2019, Humber hosted its the first tournament of the extramural season.

In a game against Canadore Panthers, Hawk’s forward Ruppert had a breakaway and scored a “Kucherov goal.”

What Ruppert did is net a no-shot goal against the Panthers’ goalie, similar in style to the technique used by Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov. The superstar used the move during the 2018 All-Star Game where he faked a deke on a breakaway which allowed the puck to slide past a displaced goaltender and into the net.

At first, Ruppert’s goal caught the attention of Canadian sports media networks Sportsnet and TSN. After that, the NHL had full attention of the forward from Humber.

They contacted the Hawk’s social media coordinator, Alyssa Turner, in November, a little after the social media posts were made on the sports networks.

“Just a little after Sportsnet, the NHL direct messaged and asked for the video,” Turner said. “We were expecting the post but after a while there was no post so we were either expecting it later or they just decided to not post it.”

Ruppert knew about the NHL contacting the social media account and had been waiting patiently.

“I knew about it since they contacted me about it,” he said. “It was cool at first but I soon put it in the back of my mind.”

From November to all the way to the end of December, there was no word from the NHL about the goal.

However, on Boxing Day, Ruppert saw the post on the NHL’s socials, right next to posts that contained organizations like Toronto Maple Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks were the Humber Hawks with Ruppert in the centre of the video.

But unlike the Kucherovs of the NHL, Ruppert didn’t get asked for autographs or become Humber’s new celebrity.

“The biggest response was that I would get teased for it,” he said. Ruppert plays in the Junior C level league, Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) for the Penetang Kings. They play in Penetanguishene in Simcoe County, a far drive from his school in Toronto. The league is a long way from the NHL.

But Humber’s twitter handle, Humber Athletics had around 500 more followers because of the NHL’s tweet. But that caused some problems as well.

“Our account doesn’t do a lot of hockey highlights because it isn’t a varsity sport,” Turner said. “We now have a good chunk of our following that just wants hockey content.

“We post basketball clips and there will be someone commenting for more hockey. We can’t because hockey content only happens a few times a month and it wouldn’t be our top priority,” he said.