George Awada interview

Friday, 29th August 2003

The state of Minnesota has been a happy hunting ground in previous years for hockey in Manchester – the likes of Kris Miller and Kurt Kleinendorst hailed from there. Now Manchester welcomes another Minnesotan in right-winger George Awada.

From Mendota Heights, George comes to the Phoenix at what he describes as a “good time in my career. There has been a lot of talk of rule changes coming in the East Coast that may have affected me, and a lot of other guys, at a time in my career when I’m looking for a new challenge. I’ve played in tournaments in Germany and Switzerland before and so a potential move to Europe really interested me.” The European style of game suits George as he admits, “I like a skating game, I enjoyed playing in Europe previously and having played all my junior and college hockey on the bigger ice surface, adjusting to it again after my time in the East Coast will not be a problem.”

George explained his career path that has led him to Manchester saying, “It was the end of the season in my last year of college and I was spotted by a coach of the New Jersey Devils and he had me called up to the Albany River Rats for their final ten games or so. I must have done pretty well, because I was invited to the Devils training camp and after a good camp, a couple of exhibition games for the Devils, I was signed as a free agent to a one-year contract and sent straight to Albany. I played the full season there and enjoyed it.”

From Albany in the American Hockey League, George then went to the Richmond Renegades for a season, “that went pretty well and then early on the following year I moved to New Orleans. There I became the leading scorer and then last season I played in Florida with the Everblades – actually with a couple of guys who know Manchester, Kevin Brown and Ryan Stewart. They both told me that Manchester is a great city and so when the interest came from the Phoenix, I was immediately interested.”

One of the good news stories that Phoenix coach Rick Brebant learned about George is his keenness on physical fitness. “Yeah, I’m not a fanatic, but I do like to stay in shape,” laughed George. “I don’t mind working out all year round, running and just staying in shape. I’m not one of those guys who takes the summer off. I watch pretty carefully what I eat and I think that helps keep me in good shape too. I read a book by Lance Armstrong – the cyclist – and he takes the eating aspect to a whole new level. He squeezes every last ounce of energy and nutrition out of everything he eats, and when you consider the problems he’s overcome and the achievements he’s made, then you could say he’s something of an inspiration to me.”

As for his career highlight to date, George cites a short-handed hat trick he scored in his college days as his most memorable moment so far, and along with the ubiquitous golfing in his leisure time, he names the US cycling team as his favourite sports team outside of hockey, a further reminder of the influence Lance Armstrong has had on him.

Now though, he starts out on a fresh challenge in joining Rick Brebant and the Manchester Phoenix in the first season of Elite Ice Hockey League and he noted, “I don’t know too much about the game in the UK, but like I said, Brownie and Stewy told me Manchester is a great place, so I’m really looking forward to getting over there.”