© — Photo by Erica Robert/St. Francis Xavier University
Heading into Friday night’s game, Upper Island Cove native Robert Slaney was second in scoring for the St. Francis Xavier men’s hockey team.
Upper Island Cove native juggling hockey and studies at St. FX
If Robert Slaney doesn’t fulfil his dream of becoming a doctor, he could always opt for a career as a time management specialist.
Along with starring for the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men’s hockey conference), the 25-year-old Upper Island Cove native is carrying a full and busy course load as he works toward a bachelor of kinetics (science) degree, with aspirations of going to medical school at Memorial University.
Slaney’s typical day starts with classes from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a three-hour lab. Then he gets a break — all of half an hour — before a two-hour hockey practice from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“That ends just in time for me to hit the library,” he said.
Such is the life of someone balancing high-level of athletic competition and school, but Slaney makes it work.
“I’ve learned how to manage my time,” said Slaney, who has had experience with this sort of thing before
Playing with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, school was a top priority.
“I kind of learned to manage my time quite a bit on the bus,” said Slaney, who was the CHL Canadian major junior scholastic player of the year in 2008.
He also suggests that his falling into the mature student category is a reason he’s been successful on the ice and in the classroom.
“Being a little older ... it makes you realize what you want to do,” he said.
Slaney spent three seasons in the professional ranks — split between the ECHL and AHL after being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009. In 2012, he decided to go to university at ST. FX, but rules required he sit out a year (as a redshirt) coming from the pros.
However, he didn’t miss out on any hockey last season as he regularly commuted from the St, Francis Xavier campus in Antigonish, N.S., to suit up with the C.B.N. Eastlink CeeBee Stars in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, helping the CeeBees to the Herder Memorial Trophy provincial championship.
Heading into Friday, when the X-Men were to host the Saint Mary’s Huskies, Slaney (10 goals, 18 points) was second in scoring for St. FX (10-10).
Its the sort of record that validates the six-foot-two, 225-pound forward’s suggestion the team has experienced “some ups and downs.”
However, he feels things are picking up.
“Right now, we’re sitting in a good position and we’re starting to clear things out and get on the right path,” said Slaney, one of three Newfoundlanders on the X-Men (four if you count Goulds native Brad Peddle, the team’s head coach).
The other playerss are senior defenceman Josh Day of St. John’s, the team captain, and winger Brandon Hynes of Norris Point, who came to St. FX at Christmas after having started the season in the ECHL.
With seven points in his first six games, Hynes has provided an immediate scoring boost for St.FX, which was looking to strengthen its lineup in preparation for its hosting the 2014 Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s hockey tournament.
If St. FX happens to win a national crown, it will make for a two-title season for Slaney and Day, who were members of Canada’s gold medal-winning men’s hockey entry at the 2013 Winter Universiade (World University Games) in Trentino, Italy last month.
“That was arguably one of my better hockey experiences,” aid Slaney, who was joined on Team Canada by two other X-Men teammates, Jason Bast and Michael Kirkpatrick, along with two other Newfoundlanders, defencemen Chris Owens of Acadia and Alex Wall of UPEI.
“We had a great group of guys and everyone came together pretty quick”
“To be able to go over there and put on that jersey and come back with a gold is certainly something special.”