At 20 years old, Jonny Russell is the oldest player on the Buccaneers roster.
He might be the smartest, too.
‘He’s just an intelligent guy all the way around,’ said teammate Rylee St. Onge. ‘He’s amazed me a couple of times on the bus, with magic tricks. He’s got a whole variety to him.’
‘I’ve always been a reader,’ said Russell. ‘I’ve always liked books, ever since I was a kid, so it’s something I really enjoy, school. I really enjoy learning, so it’s something I’ve always held myself accountable to and really pursued.’
Russell will hit the books, and the ice, at Ivy League school Brown. But it’s another skill, that’s more his ‘forte’.
‘I started piano lessons really early. It’s definitely a really good stress release, when things aren’t going well in the rink, or in the classroom or anything like that.’
And a note-worthy skill – in his hockey life.
‘Last weekend, at the hotel we were staying in, they had a piano right in the lobby. One or two guys knew I could play. So I sat down and started playing, and turned a couple of heads. It was pretty fun.’
‘He’s really good,’ said teammate Mac Welsher. ‘He can play a bunch of different songs, and sometimes he’ll mix them up together when he plays. It’s awesome.’
‘Getting into that flow mindset, where you’re out of control and your body’s just doing what it knows what to do. When athletes are at their peak performance, it’s that same kind of mindset that a really good pianist or really good musician can put themselves into when they perform.’
So if it’s pucks, or keys, Russell’s playing to his own beat.
‘If someone thinks playing piano and playing hockey are pretty different, so what. It’s kind of nice to be a more rounded person.’
Piano-poking hockey player certainly fits.