The Australian Ice Hockey League’s best defenceman of 2017, Robert Haselhurst, is trading the west coast for the east coast this season.
After five seasons with Perth Thunder, Haselhurst has moved to Newcastle and will don the Northstars’ red and blue in 2018.
Haselhurst said Newcastle was the perfect fit for his family and hockey creer.
“It was a perfect mix of what would work for my family and my hockey, and no other club could really put that together like they did,” he said.
“I approached Newcastle. My living conditions changed in Perth and I wanted to see more of Australia. And when I thought about where I wanted to live most out of all the teams, Newcastle just stood out. I love to surf, I lived in Margaret River in the off season and I surfed there a lot so that was a big factor.
“[I know] that the Newcastle organisation really respects all of their players, especially their local players. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Garry and the organisation there.
“I also knew there would be really good players that I could play alongside of, like Bert Malloy who I played in the world championships with. He is just an unbelievable guy and really good player.”
Northstars general manager Garry Doré said signing Haselhurst to Newcastle this season was “huge”.
“Rob is regarded as one of the top defencemen in the league,” he said.
“He was always a threat when we played Perth and he is dangerous out on the ice. When I heard he was travelling east there was no question about it.
“You could not meet a nicer guy and he is so committed to the game. I think he will be a valuable player not just for the team, but for the organisation as a whole.”
Haselhurst is indeed a valuable player, not only being a great defenceman but also scoring eight goals and nine assists last for Perth last season.
He was named the AIHL’s best defenceman for 2017 at the end of the season.
“It’s an unbelievable honour,” Haselhurst said. “I honestly didn’t expect to even be nominated let alone ever winning the award. It’s pretty unreal, I can’t even believe that it happened really. Especially being a local player and having imports nominated for that award makes it even more special.
“To be honest I feel like the award could have gone to a few guys in the league this year. I feel like I have a lot of room to improve in my game and a lot more to give.”
Also nominated for the award was Northstars captain Bert Malloy, Casey Babineau (Adelaide Adrenaline) Matthew Beattie (Melbourne Mustangs), Lliam Webster (Melbourne Ice), Andrew White (Sydney Ice Dogs), Dominic Jalbert (CBR Brave) and Nick Rivait (Sydney Bears).
Malloy is also excited to have Haselhurst on board for the upcoming season.
“Obviously I’m excited to have him on board,” he said. “I think I’m actually more excited not to have to play against him anymore. We have had some epic battles over the past few years.
“He’s a great guy that I’ve gotten to know pretty well, he’s a great addition to the Northstars family. He will be a fan favourite for sure.”
Haselhurst played three final games with Perth Thunder in February – in the three game Chinese Ice Hockey League All Stars series.
“That was a great experience,” he said. “It was too bad we didn’t win the series because I really think we could have won it. On a personal note, it was really nice to play a last couple of games with all of my friends and represent Perth one last time.
“Perth Thunder, as an organisation, have treated me really well and done so much for me since I was 19 years old, and all of the players.
“I have nothing but good things to say about them. I’m really looking forward to playing them this season.”
Catch Haselhurst in a Newcastle Northstars jersey in the 2018 AIHL season on his return from Team Australia duties in Netherlands.
Watch Ellie's interview with Rob on his arrival from W.A. here: