Wacey Hamilton is rapidly approaching his 150th game in a Utica Comets jersey.
Over the past three seasons skating in the Mohawk Valley, the one constant for Hamilton – teammate Carter Bancks.
The friendship and partnership forged by the duo in Utica remains an unfolding success story.
Q: Since you and Carter came to Utica three seasons ago, the two of you seem "joined at the hip". How did your friendship begin?
A: Actually, it's funny how things have worked out. He's (Carter) from Kimberley (British Columbia) and I'm from Cochrane (Alberta). Some of his buddies and some of my buddies played hockey together. Where I grew up (Medicine Hat), we had a great rivalry with Lethbridge (Hurricanes). That's when, in juniors, I first saw Carter. The guy played hard. I couldn't help but to respect him.
Q: Did you think that one day, the two of you could be playing professionally together?
A: No. I didn't see it coming. In our first year here (2014-15), the both of us didn't have contracts. I made the 40-hour drive from Calgary to Utica. Carter was in training camp with the team. I kept hearing this voice inside my head saying, "What if they (Comets) don't take both of us?" I thought that I would be the odd man out. As it worked out, "Greener" (Comets' coach Travis Green) put us together.
Q: Do you and Carter spend time together outside of the rink?
A: I can't seem to shake him (laughing). On the road, we're roommates. Our first year here, we lived together. Last year, my wife was with me, so I kicked him out (laughing). Carter lived down the hall from us. Now, he and Joseph LaBate are a stone's throw down the street.
Q: How about in the off-season?
A: Always. We're close. I go to Kimberley and play golf with him and Carter comes to Calgary – and we play golf.
Q: If you, along with Carter, could select anyone to skate on your line – who would be your choice?
A: Well, Joseph LaBate wouldn't be too happy (laughing). My choice would be Patrice Bergeron (13-season Boston Bruins' center). He (Bergeron) always plays hard, and is pretty good on offense, too.
Q: Who do you think would be Carter's pick?
A: Probably Logan Couture (eight-season San Jose Sharks' center).
Q: With nearly three complete seasons with the Comets, do you feel like an honorary Utican?
A: Utica feels like home. I've been here the better part of three years and now my wife is with me. We've made relationships with people in the community and with my teammates.
Q: You spent three seasons with the Binghamton Senators. Any difference between being there and Utica?
A: Time has gone by quicker here. I've had a little more success in Utica than in Binghamton. At the time, when I was in Binghamton, it was an overwhelming experience. In Utica, I've grown up and have had the time to enjoy playing hockey on this level.
Q: Your last year in juniors with Medicine Hat was Curtis Valk's first season with the Tigers. What was your first impression of your teammate?
A: I played a full year with Curtis. I remember seeing him in rookie camp. I think he was 14 or 15-years-old and his jersey was down to his knees (laughing). He (Valk) was a tiny guy, but fearless. Curt didn't mind going into the dirty areas. And whatever hit he took, Curt would give it right back.
Q: During your third season with Medicine Hat, Travis Green spent his first as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks. What's your memory of Travis and that season?
A: Medicine Hat only played them (Portland) once or twice during the season. The first time I saw him (Green) behind their bench, I didn't know that he had retired. I recognized him, and knew who he was. I thought that he was still playing.
Q: As a kid growing up watching hockey on TV, what's your best memory?
A: Like all Canadian kids, watching Hockey Night In Canada was a staple every Saturday night. That was life. Whoever the Flames would be playing, that's what was on TV. My parents, my two brothers, we would have a late dinner, if we weren't away at a hockey tournament, and take in the game.