Former players at Oshawa’s Ontario Tech reunite at minor pro Pensacola Ice Flyers

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Published January 20, 2022 at 4:08 pm

Former Ontario Tech Ridgeback men’s hockey players Tucker White and Malik Johnson are reuniting as teammates on the Pensacola Ice Flyers in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL).

Johnson, who last played with the Ridgebacks during the 2018/19 season, says he always wanted to get a taste of pro hockey life after his time at Ontario Tech and found himself playing in France for Chambêry, where he scored four goals and nine points in 10 games before appearing in the French Cup.

“My time was amazing and being able to speak French made the experience a pleasant one. The caliber is quite good, but my style of play is more conducive to North American style hockey.”

Johnson scored 20 goals and had 31 assists in his three seasons with the Ridgebacks.

White says he briefly considered retiring from hockey while he perused his captains’ license, but after seeing old friends and teammates playing at Ontario Tech and some moving onto pro careers, he began to miss the game and atmosphere.

“So, I decided to give the game another shot before my corporate career,” said White.

Having recently moved to Tampa, Florida, White got in touch with Rod Aldoff, head coach of the Ice Flyers. White notes it was a perfect fit, as he was still on the beach.

“I previously heard a lot of great things about the organization here and how it was one of the better places to play in the league, not only due to the location but the fan base, as well as the professionalism and success of the organization,” said White. “Upon arrival, I quickly realized how great of a place this really is.”

White played with the Ridgebacks from 2017 until 2020 as a defenceman and appeared in more than 50 games for Ontario Tech.

“It’s great to see a couple of our alumni still at it and playing professionally, along with having the neat opportunity to play together once again,” said head coach Curtis Hodgins, who spent 16 years coaching Junior A (along with a couple years as an assistant coach with the Oshawa Generals) before joining Ontario Tech in 2015.  “Both guys were real good players for our program and I am sure they will be solid contributors for the Ice Flyers.”

With another lockdown on the horizon in France in December, Johnson’s agent mentioned the SPHL as a possible spot to play in North America. Shortly after, Johnson found himself a member of the Ice Flyers organization after talking with coach Aldoff and his agent.

“I’m really happy to be here, the guys are great, and I get to play high-quality hockey again,” said Johnson.

White says he’s grateful for his time at Ontario Tech as a student and an athlete and credits the coaching staff and faculty with becoming a better professional, more disciplined as a pro athlete, in his corporate career and everyday life.

“A lot of the skills I have obtained over the last four years I’ve been able to apply to everyday scenarios as a professional. Big thanks to Curtis Hodgins and Paul Ranger for being influential in my career paths and success prior to my time as a Ridgeback.”

with files from Ontario Tech Sports Information

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