Jeremy Hannah has taken the road less travelled to reach his hockey dreams.
It hasn’t been easy, but the twenty-six-year-old Dieppe, New Brunswick product wouldn’t change it for the world.
The road less travelled is often fraught with adversity, set back and disappointment.
Nevertheless, the road less travelled often is the most rewarding.
Hannah’s unpredictable path in the game has prepared him for his first foray in professional hockey.
An Early Start
From the minute Jeremy Hannah laced them up he knew the value of hard work.
Hannah’s hockey dreams all started at the soon to be demolished Centennial Arena in Dieppe.
“I remember the Centennial well,” Hannah said when asked about his earliest recollection of the game.
“I remember wearing the Timbit jersey, we were the Sharks, we had their colours and everything.”
Hannah’s memories are as vivid now as ever.
“I remember getting on practicing for a half hour and scrimmaging for the second half,” Hannah said proudly.
In those days the race to the bench in preparation for the scrimmage definitely helped develop everyone’s speed and agility.
Frozen feet were common place in the frigid confines of the Centennial, but that never deteriorated Hannah’s instant love for the game.
An unwavering passion and relentless work ethic were automatically entrenched in Hannah’s soul after every trip to the old barn.
The lessons learned at the Centennial live on today as Hannah gets set to make his professional regular season debut for the HC Lidköping Red Roosters.
Every young player and person needs a mentor.
Someone to look up to, someone to bounce ideas off of, but most importantly someone that can help them achieve their lifelong goals and dreams.
“My biggest mentor growing up was Allan Andrews,” Hannah said proudly.
“Allan has done so much for not just me, but for the game of hockey here in the Maritimes,” Hannah added.
“He has had such a huge impact on so many young hockey players, it’s incredible.”
“Allan is so intelligent when comes to the game of hockey.”
“He’s so well liked within the game,” explained Hannah.
“When I think about or talk about the game, the first thing I think about is Allan Andrews.”
“It’s not just on the ice, it’s how you behave off the ice as well. That’s one thing they were big on at all the Andrews Camps.
“They taught us that you never know who’s watching.”
“You can be in the mall or the rink, there’s always somebody watching.”
“Allan always taught us that respect is huge and I give him every credit to Allan Andrews for my early development in the game,” explained Hannah.
Jeremy Hannah has always embraced the grind.
From a young age Hannah was never the most skilled or flashiest player on his team, he had to work for every inch of success that came his way.
Hannah was always in search of a unique path, a path that would not only challenge him, but give him an opportunity to prove his value as a person and player.
“I’ve always liked travelling and seeing new places,” said Hannah who left home at a very young age to further his development and career at the Ontario Hockey Academy.
“I believe that when you go to other places you have more opportunities.”
“When you travel to new places you have the opportunity to prove yourself again and again.”
Hannah was driven at a young age to push himself to the highest level, unfortunately the political side of the game would surface from time to time.
“It’s cool to play in new places, but staying around here would have been a bit different,” admitted Hannah.
“I don’t want to say there’s a lot of politics in the game, growing up in minor hockey you see it sometimes, so going to other places and making teams shows that you can play at that level.”
“Sometimes you get cut from a AAA team, you feel like you aren’t good enough.”
“You get down on yourself as a kid.”
“I always liked to travel and I’ve always been one to want to see new places so when the opportunity presented itself I would always jump right to it,” Hannah said.
Leaving home at a very young age to grow on and off the ice was Hannah’s main objective.
“I loved meeting new people and making new friends so it was definitely an experience of a lifetime.”
Hannah’s path in the game would take him from OHA, to the famed Boston Jr Bruins program, to the AIH Fighting Spirits, to Daniel Webster College, on to the University of Alabama of the ACHA and finally back to his hometown where he finished up the last year of his college eligibility with the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleues.
“Alabama was something else, it was very different,” Hannah said when asked to describe his journey south of the border.
“You get the real university experience which you kind of see in movies,” he said.
“With forty thousand students, you have all these big sports, the frat houses, all the amazing architecture and million-dollar buildings, it’s amazing.”
“Going to a big school like that challenges you to want to be the best out of that forty thousand.”
“It just pushes you.”
“They have high expectations and you see the alumni that went to school there as well.”
“I grew as person attending the University of Alabama,” admitted Hannah.
From the classroom to the ice, Hannah embraced every aspect of university life.
“It’s not like the teacher is there making sure you are paying attention, because you’re in class a of two hundred.”
“You have to focus, you have to take a lot of the responsibility, it definitely helped me grow off the ice,” Hannah said.
As for the hockey, Hannah will never forget suiting up for the Crimson Tide.
“From a hockey perspective, I wanted to perform at my best because you are playing for a school that has such a good reputation athletically.”
“If you started slacking off you would notice it.”
“We worked out in the same gym that all the top NFL players worked out in.”
“You would see all the jersey’s and coats on the wall.”
“That made me push myself a lot in the gym,” Hannah said.
“I wanted to live up to the expectations of Alabama.”
“I wanted to live up to the expectations of the Crimson Tide.”
“It was a great experience, it was unbelievable.”
Another common theme in Hannah’s journey in the game is love of learning.
Education and the search for knowledge has always been at the forefront of the road less travelled.
Did Hannah ever think about going the QMJHL route or was it college hockey all the way?
“I did think at fifteen and sixteen that the Q would be a good league to go to.”
“You live the “pro life” at such a young age and you play in front of big crowds which is cool, but I still wanted to go play college hockey,” explained Hannah.
“I was a late-bloomer.”
“When I got to seventeen and eighteen that’s when I really started peaking and ended up getting better,” admitted Hannah.
“For a kid that is really good at fourteen and fifteen I think the Q is a good option, but like someone like myself where I developed later, college was a better option for me.”
Obviously Hannah has no regrets.
“I saw a lot of my friends playing in the Q, it can be hard at sixteen years old only playing two shifts a period or a shift a game or getting scratched and not knowing why, it can be hard at that age.”
“It can be really hard on some kids mentally, and not because I didn’t go that route for that reason, but I see that now, but at that age I didn’t see that aspect of the game,” stressed Hannah.
There’s No Place Like Home
After being away from home for a decade Jeremy Hannah decided to lace them up for his hometown team in his final year of college eligibility.
Nevertheless, the special homecoming almost never happen.
Hannah was exploring pro options the summer before while training and skating locally.
“Things were looking good to go to Belgium, but before heading out a few guys like Jordan Murray and Phil Myers skated with the Aigles.”
“The coach asked me what my plans were and if I had some eligibility, I told them I had one year remaining and that’s when they asked me to stay.”
“You almost feel like you want to cry,” Hannah said when they asked him to stay.
“I hadn’t played at home in ten years.”
“My grandparents haven’t seen me play unless they watched it online.”
“It’s indescribable,” Hannah said about putting donning the Aigles Bleue colours.
“It was amazing, I still remember putting my jersey on for the first game and stepping on for warm-up versus UPEI and my first shift thinking wow I haven’t played at home in so long.”
“You get out there and you have so much energy and adrenal, it was quite the feeling,” said Hannah.
There’s really no place like home.
“Being home for the entire year was really something.”
“Having the opportunity to see family and getting in touch with all my friends was great and I met my girlfriend as well so it was special.”
“It was just a great year,” Hannah said.
A New Beginning
Playing professional hockey was always the ultimate goal for Jeremy Hannah.
That dream has become a reality.
The speedy elusive forward recently signed on with HC Linköping Red Roosters.
“Signing with the Red Roosters is a huge stepping stone,” Hannah said.
“To finally realize a dream shows that you never quit and always work hard.”
“Good things will come your way if you keep putting in the work,” admitted Hannah.
Jeremy Hannah learned the value of hard work from a very young age watching his parents put in long hours at the family business.
“My dad always told me, that you only get out what you put in.”
“If you put in half the effort you only get half the results.”
“I learned a lot from watching my parents put in so many hours at the office.”
“You see them put in so much time, work and effort to something they care about it. Humans are creatures of habit, so I watched that and it made me want to be just like that,” Hannah said proudly.
“It was really motivating seeing my parents work so hard.”
Where does Hannah see himself in three years?
“Right now I’m taking it day by day, but in a few years I really see myself still playing professionally and moving up the ranks.”
“It’s a matter of pushing myself and working harder,” admitted Hannah.
“Coming home the last few summers and training with Rick Leger in the gym and Derek Cormier on the ice has really helped me improve.”
“In a few more years I see myself moving up even higher.”
The Red Roosters currently play in Division III in Sweden, but they are definitely a top tier team within that category.
Hannah who has already played in some preseason games versus Division II teams believes the Red Roosters could make the jump up a level quite easily.
“I’m loving it here in Lidköping,” Hannah said.
Hannah has adapted quickly to life on and off the ice since arriving in Sweden two weeks ago.
The skilled two-way forward has already lite the lamp a few times in preseason action and has played in every situation for the organization.
How has Hannah’s entire journey in the game prepared him for this opportunity and moment in his life?
“I would have to say there’s a lot of things that have prepared me for this.”
“Off the ice is important, being the only import and Canadian on the team, people recognize you.”
“They put an article out in the local newspaper and pretty quickly people started to recognize me so you really have to act professionally and respectfully.”
“It’s all about being a good citizen and person in the community.”
“With all my years of moving and living in different places and meeting new people and adapting to different cultures has really prepared me for this type of life,” stressed Hannah.
Hockey is hockey, it’s a universal language spoken across the world, but Hannah’s experience playing with a multitude of international players throughout his path in the game has certainly paid dividends.
“At OHA and my time in junior I played with guys from Russia, Sweden, Finland, Austria.”
“You get to learn those styles of play, so coming over here this year is a bit of change due to the size of the ice, but it’s nice to be able to skate at home on the Olympic size ice as well during the summer.”
“When you play with guys from Europe and all over the world you learn how they move and how they skate, what they see on the ice, so that has really prepared me for what this level is like.”
“The style of play over here in Sweden is very skilled,” explained Hannah.
“That’s one thing the Sweds are known for is their skill.”
Hannah is quick to credit Leger and Cormier when it comes to skill development both on and off the ice.
“I think it’s absolutely amazing,” Hannah said when asked about Pro Evolution Hockey.
“When I was the age of some the kids that attend the program like sixteen or seventeen, we didn’t have much of that around here.”
“I think you are going to start seeing a lot more kids from the Greater Moncton area and across the Maritimes make rosters of top pro leagues like the NHL, AHL and those guys are going to be top names in the Q as well.”
“I think the impact that Rick and Derek are having on the hockey community for the top kids is absolutely perfect.”
“They have had a massive impact on me over the last two summers,” Hannah said.
“I think PEH is going to be very successful and it’s already showing with guys like Lukas Cormier, Cole Cormier and Nico Savoie who are really doing well in the Q.”
“It’s great to see them on the NHL Central Scouting List, those kids are putting Moncton and Bouctouche on the map when it comes to the game in this region.”
“I think the first person that has really excelled from PEH is obviously Phil Myers.”
“Phil had an unbelievable playoff run with the Flyers this year.”
“Phil is a prime example of someone that puts in all the work and that’s the PEH mentality to push yourself work and become stronger and want to be best.”
Hannah and his girlfriend Dominique Vautour are growing accustom to life in Sweden.
“It’s really nice to have Dominique here, it was a lot easier getting settled in.
“Dominique is loving it over here.”
Vautour is completing her Masters Degree from the Universite de Moncton online while living in Lidköping.
“Everyone has been so welcoming.”
“It’s been an amazing experience so far.”
“All my teammates want to show me around.”
“It’s top notch and the organization is so well run, I definitely came to the right spot,” Hannah said proudly.
Hannah has very high expectations for this season.
“I think I can bring a lot of scoring and leadership to the team.”
“Even though I don’t speak Swedish, I can still lead by example.”
“Everyone understands hockey lingo,” Hannah said laughing.
“I think my age and maturity is an important aspect that I will bring to the team as well.”
“I see myself doing pretty well so far and I should produce well in this league.”
“I want to make a name for myself over here,” Hannah said.
What advice would Hannah offer other young players taking the road less travelled in their hockey journey?
“Always work hard and keeping pushing.”
“Never let anyone get in the way of what you want to do.”
“Don’t let anybody tell you your dream isn’t attainable, no matter what you dream is you just have to work to it and keep pushing, and preserving.”
“I would also tell them to always have fun.”
“Every time someone steps on the ice and plays the game you should have a smile on your face, that’s one thing I want kids to know is to work hard, have fun and good things will come.”
Jeremy Hannah has taken the road less travelled to achieve his hockey dreams.