Bari McKenzie has been around for a good few years now so when we asked him to pick his Dream First Line, it proved to be harder than it sounded.
Picking players he’s played with or against, Bari thought long and hard through his career to pick out the guys he’d love to be on the ice with if the choice was down to him.
Here’s who Bari picked out, with honourable mentions to those team-mates who narrowly missed the final cut.
BARI McKENZIE’S DREAM FIRST LINE
Dan Bakala (Dundee Stars)
“When Dan signed in Dundee, he was playing men’s league hockey and came to Dundee, helping us win the Gardiner Conference and finish third in the Elite League. Dan was a massive part of it.
“He got all the accolades that season and you know how good a goalie is when you can’t even score against him in training. He was probably the fittest in the room and came to us maybe looking to prove a point. His career flourished after he left us.
“In the locker room, he was a good guy and was a bit of a jokester. He was very professional in his mannerisms and how he went about things.”
Dwayne Newman (Milton Keynes Lightning)
“I’m going back to the start with this one and Dwayne was an import player and our captain at the time. He was older and like Dan, was a good professional. He was tough as nails and would do anything for you.
“He and his wife were a lovely couple and one of the most genuine guys I’ve ever played with. Nobody has a bad word to say about him and he certainly helped me in the early stages of my career.
“He steered me in the right direction and gave me a clip round the ear when the occasion called for it, but a tremendous guy and a great leader.
Neal Martin (Coventry Blaze)
“When I was with Milton Keynes, I was on a two-way with Coventry Blaze and Neal was there. Just training with him and watching him, he was phenomenal.
“I remember in a Challenge Cup Final, he’d done his knee ligaments and was almost like playing one leg, but he was still so skilful and fast. He was a really, really good player.
“Neal was a popular player at Coventry and was very successful there.”
Rene Jarolin (Edinburgh Capitals)
“My last year at Edinburgh, I played alongside Rene and Richard Hartmann and he helped me a lot, although communication with him was tricky as his English wasn’t great.
“But you knew if you gave him the puck, he would score. The style we played suited me and wasn’t the most physical type. Sometimes he skated like a pantomime horse, but give him the puck in the right area, he could finish it.
Stuart Macrae (Cardiff Devils)
“Picking Stuart was a toss up and I’d played against him for a year before playing with him and I always thought he was a sneaky, but a standout player.
“He was so easy to play with and such a professional guy. He captained Cardiff when I was there and was a genuine individual.
Chris St Jacques (Edinburgh Capitals)
“This was a hard one and might sound weird, but in my first year in Edinburgh, Chris came to us and picked up something like 50 points from 25 games. When he came over, he was excellent and was liked a wrecking ball.
“I would probably put him up there and he left to go to Germany halfway through the season and for me, it would have been interesting to see if he’d stayed the full campaign and if we could have kept the team together in 2010/11.
“We had a really good roster and were up to third in the league or something, but then we ran into financial difficultly and everyone left sadly. Chris was a star of that team and was different class in the short time he was there.”
Honourable Mentions: Ed Courtenay (Belfast Giants), Adam Calder (Coventry Blaze), Stefan Meyer (Braehead Clan), Tony Hand (Manchester Phoenix), Nico Sacchetti (Dundee Stars), Danick Gauthier (Fife Flyers), Matt Keith (Braehead Clan), Scott Pitt (Braehead Clan)