This week’s interview is with Hershey Bliss C Justin Valentine.
SHL Digest: We’re here this week with one of the SHL’s longtime stars, Justin Valentine of the Hershey Bliss. Justin, thanks for speaking with us.
JV: Man, about time you talked to me! You’ve done interviews with Sweets [LW Lance Sweet] and Kirks [C Spencer Kirkpatrick] and Reeser [D Reese Milton], even our coach [Chip Barber]. I’m excited that I finally rated an interview.
SHLD: We’ve wanted to talk to you for a while! You’re a busy man.
JV: It’s tough being a celebrity! Everyone wants a piece of the action. (laughs) No, seriously, let’s talk.
SHLD: Great! You’ve been in the league for a long time. When you started out, you were the anchor of the wildly popular “Love Line,” which was described as a “boy band on skates.” Now you’re married, you’re solidly in the middle of your career, and you’ve won a Vandy. How have you and the Bliss grown and changed over the years?
JV: Starting with a hard one! Well, I’ve definitely changed a lot. I’ve gotten a lot more mature. I’ve gone from being a young, single guy on the loose to being a married man with a kid on the way.
SHLD: You’re expecting a child? Congratulations!
JV: Yeah, it’s a boy! He’s due in June.
SHLD: Very cool.
JV: So my life has changed a lot off the ice. But it’s changed on the ice too. We’ve had some glorious times – we even reached the mountaintop a couple years back – and we’ve had plenty of heartbreak too. But that’s just made us tougher and stronger. The Love Line is still going strong, but now our fans love us for our play, not just because we’re cute.
SHLD: Last season was definitely full of ups and downs for you. You made it back to the postseason, which had to feel good after the stumble you guys had in 2018. But then you got bounced in the first round by Hamilton, who went on to win the Vandy. How did you feel about the way last season turned out?
JV: For me, it was more of a positive thing than a negative. We showed that it wasn’t an accident that we won [in 2017], and that felt good. Obviously, the ending stung; we felt like we could have taken it. But that gives us more fuel for this season!
SHLD: What do you think you’ll need to do to get back on top this season?
JV: It’s not going to be easy. The East is getting better every year. Hamilton’s been just as tough again, and so are Quebec and New York. Boston’s coming up too. I think the key is for us to play within ourselves, play smart hockey, and keep the pressure up in the offensive end. When we get our shots, we win.
SHLD: One last question. Out of the original Love Line trio, Christopher Hart is the only one of you who’s still single. Do you ever envy him for still having that freedom?
JV: (laughs) What are you trying to do, get me killed? My wife is going to read this!
SHLD: Sorry. You don’t have to answer the question.
JV: No, I’ll answer it. Chris is obviously having a good time playing the field, but I’m happy to be married and I’m going to be thrilled to be a dad. This is the next chapter of my life, and I’m ready.
SHLD: Sounds good! Thanks for your time, Justin, and good luck the rest of the season!
JV: Thanks. It should be a crazy ride!