Fairbanks' own Bishop ready to take hockey to next level
Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 03:31 PM
by Bob Eley / firstname.lastname@example.org
FAIRBANKS - When Hunter Bishop became the first hockey player from Fairbanks to sign a National Hockey League contract last week with the Montreal Canadiens, there were two people, more than anyone else, he gave credit for his success on the ice — his mom and dad, Rita and Bill Bishop.
“I owe all my success to my parents for everything they’ve done from putting in the money to making the sacrifices they had to make in order for me to play the game when I was growing up,” Hunter Bishop said in an interview last week.
“My dad loved the game and wanted me to love the game,” Hunter said. “He’s been a huge part of my hockey career.”
Ironically, Rita and Bill Bishop were vacationing in Mexico when Hunter signed his contract with the Canadiens last week.
Hunter, who spent the past two seasons with the Ohio State Buckeyes of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, credited his sister Teal, who plays for the Ohio State women’s team, for his success.
“We played a lot of one-on-one on the outdoor rink at our house,” Hunter recalled. “She made me a better player.”
After signing a two-year contract with the Canadiens for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, Bishop was assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League, Montreal’s top minor league affiliate.
“I’m going in with the attitude that I’m ready to play but I’m really signing for next year so I’m not sure what will happen the rest of this season,” said Bishop, who reported to Hamilton on Monday.
Bishop said he received a bonus for each season and he will receive the standard AHL pay, which increases significantly if he is called up to the Canadiens.
He said he was honored to be the first Fairbanksan to sign an NHL contract.
“Going to the NHL has been my dream for as long as I can remember,” he said. “March 18 marks one step closer to reaching a 22-year-old dream. Now I have to move forward and make it happen.”
While playing for the Buckeyes, collected 29 goals and 29 assists for 58 points in 76 career games.
He said his decision had nothing to do with the fact that Ohio State did not renew the contract of head coach John Markell at the end of the season.
“It’s more complicated than I thought it was, but that didn’t even come into it” he said. “The biggest thing is my age. If I waited another year, I could only sign a one-year contract.
“Last year, I had the opportunity to sign, but I made the commitment to stay,” he added. “My goal was to leave after this year.”
Bishop played youth hockey in Fairbanks with the Arctic Lions program and eventually joined the Fairbanks Ice Dogs after playing part of one season at West Valley High School.
He credited coaches such as Dean Largen and Jayson Kowlachuk with helping getting him started in the competitive part of the game. He also acknowledged that Roger McKinnon and PJ Williams with his success with the Arctic Lions.
“Roger pretty much took me through the most critical years,” Bishop said.
While playing for the Ice Dogs, Bishop was under the direction of head coach Rob Proffitt and then assistant coach Dallas Ferguson, who now is head coach of the Alaska Nanooks.
“Rob helped me become a man, you could say,” Bishop said.
Bishop also credited his summer trainer Erik Cooper and former Nanooks standout Dean Fedorchuk with helping him to continue to move up the hockey ladder.
“Dean gave me a lot of personal one-on-one help” Bishop said.
Now it’s on to a professional career for Bishop.