Interview of the Week: Bruce Hogaboom

This week’s interview is with Washington Galaxy D Bruce “Boom Boom” Hogaboom.

SHL Digest: We’re here talking to one of the league’s most fearsome fighters, the man they call “Boom Boom,” Bruce Hogaboom.  Bruce, thanks for speaking with us.

Bruce “Boom Boom” Hogaboom

Bruce Hogaboom: No one calls me Bruce except my mom.  Call me Boom Boom or Boomer.

SHLD: Okay, Boomer.  When we talk about the real heavyweights in this league, the guys who really know how to throw down, a handful of names come up.  Max Madison in Michigan, Hercules Mulligan in Hamilton, Dmitri Kalashnikov in Quebec, Ruslan Gromov in Hershey, and you.

BH: “Heavyweight!”  I like the sound of that.  Yeah, the guys you mentioned, we’re the cream of the enforcer crop.

SHLD: Other than yourself, who do you think is the best fighter in the league?

BH: It’s gotta be Mad Max.  He’s wiry, so he’s hard to pin down, and he comes at you from a bunch of different angles.  And that guy has no fear whatsoever.  He’ll drop the gloves any time in any situation.  And he’s a good two-way player too, which is hardly fair.  That’s like a boxer who paints like Picasso.

SHLD: Some enforcers really like to fight, while others think of it as just their job.  Do you like to fight?

BH: Absolutely!  Isn’t it obvious?  I love to fight.  I love to watch fights.  I study the tape all the time.

SHLD: You study tape of… fights?

BH: Sure.  If you’re a big-time scorer, you watch tape of your shots to see if you need to tweak your approach.  If you’re a fighter, you study fights, to watch your technique and how other guys like to fight, so you can get the upper hand. Some people think that fighting isn’t a skill, but if you’re serious about it, it is.

SHLD: Interesting!  A lot of fans might be surprised to hear that.

BH: And honestly, I just love to watch my old fights for the fun of it.  A good fight is like a good steak or a fine wine; one of life’s pleasures.

SHLD: Have you always been a fighter?

BH: Ever since I could skate, pretty much.  I always wanted to play pro hockey, but I couldn’t shoot and I wasn’t a great passer.  I thought about being a goalie, but you have to be nuts to take some of the shots that they take.  But when I started scrapping, I found out I have heavy hands and I could fight well.

SHLD: That’s for sure!

BH: It felt good.  Before I started fighting, I usually got picked last or nearly last, because I wasn’t a great player.  But after, guys started picking me first, because they wanted the protection.  I recognized my skill and developed it.

SHLD: And you kept on developing that as you got older.

BH: Definitely!  When I was thirteen, I gave my fists nicknames, because I thought that sounded cool.  My right was Randy, and my left was Matilda.

SHLD: Randy and Matilda… interesting names!

BH: Yeah.  I’d loosen guys up with Randy, then I’d bring out Matilda and drop them. Word started to spread, and the enforcers in other towns would come around just to fight me.  And I beat them all.  I was the Mike Tyson of central Alberta.

SHLD: Some people say that fighting and enforcers have no place in the modern game, and should be banned.  What would you say to those people?

BH: I’d say that’s a crazy idea.  First of all, plenty of fans love the fights.  Look at all the fight videos on YouTube.  Listen to the crowd whoop it up when guys go at it.  People might not admit it, but they love the violence.  Second, it actually makes the sport safer.  Ask our skill guys, Jeff [McNeely] and Thurm [Casey Thurman] and Eddie [Costello].  If another team wants to take a run at those guys, they think about me coming out to even the score and they lay off.  It helps discourage the really dangerous hits.

SHLD: You’ve been suspended before, when you left the bench to fight with a player.  Did you think that was a fair suspension?

BH: [laughs] That game against Michigan, that was crazy.  The Wolves were out there flying around and railing guys, and the refs didn’t want to do anything about it.  So I put a stop to it.  Did I go too far?  Probably, but I tell you: they dialed it back the next time they played us.  They got the message.

SHLD: This season, you’re skating on the third pairing with a rookie, Bert Hampton, who’s also a tough customer!

BH: Hacksaw!  I love him.  On the team, they call him “Little Boomer,” because he plays the same way I do.  I’ve been teaching him all kinds of pointers: how to tie a guy up so he can’t get his hands free, how to protect against a blindside hit, the way to sneak in an extra shot or two before the refs break it up.

SHLD: You’re sort of his mentor, then.

BH: Definitely.  I don’t have any kids, but he’s like my son now.  I can’t wait to see him develop to his full fighting potential.

SHLD: Well, thanks for a fun and informative interview!  Appreciate the time.

BH: Glad to do it! I’m just out here keeping the spirit of old-time hockey alive.


Hogaboom Goes Hog Wild, Gets Suspended

Washington SmallMichigan SmallSunday’s game between the Michigan Gray Wolves and the Washington Galaxy was expected to be a marquee matchup, an early test of skill between two strong teams that might end up facing each other in the Finals.  While the game itself was less competitive than expected (Michigan cruised to a 5-2 win), it turned out to be a memorable contest for other reasons.  Galaxy D Bruce “Boom Boom” Hogaboom turned the game into an MMA match, and wound up receiving the league’s first suspension as a result.

Bruce “Boom Boom” Hogaboom

“It’s official,” quipped Washington coach Rodney Reagle after the game.  “Boom Boom retains his belt as the heavyweight champion of the SHL.”

The game was chippy from the beginning: the Galaxy and Wolves are both physical teams, and both seemed eager not to let the other push them around.  “Our identity is strength,” said Michigan LW Vladimir Bersuchko.  “We win when we dominate the physical battles.  We are not afraid of hard checks and aggressive play.”

Beruschko’s “aggressive play” seemed a little too aggressive in the eyes of the Washington bench.  “There’s a line between playing hard and playing dirty,” said Galaxy C Eddie Costello.  “Vlad was way over that line, and the refs weren’t doing a damn thing about it.”  It infuriated the Galaxy that the Wolves winger had been whistled for only one minor penalty over the first two periods.

During the second intermission, Hogaboom asked Reagle to put him on the ice against Beruschko.  “Bruce said if the refs weren’t going to do something about it, he would,” said the Galaxy coach.

Less than a minute into the third period, Beruschko violently checked Washington RW Jefferson McNeely into the boards.  Hogaboom skated over to Beruschko and challenged him.  The two proceeded to trade blows, with Hogaboom getting the better end of things by most accounts.  Both players were assessed five-minute majors for fighting.

Later in the period, Wolves D Bjorn Tollefson took a run at Galaxy LW Walt Camernitz, dumping him into the Washington bench with a high check.  The play outraged Hogaboom, who wasn’t on the ice at the time.  He leapt over the boards and charged at Tollefson, fists flying.

The resulting battle was wilder and more physical than Hogaboom’s earlier tussle with Beruschko, and the Galaxy defender wound up on the ice throwing right crosses to Tollefson’s head.  This time, in addition to matching majors, Hogaboom wound up with an additional instigation minor.  Reagle said that he had to talk the officials out of ejecting Hogaboom from the game.

After the game, the Galaxy enforcer was defiant.  “It’s like frontier justice,” said Hogaboom.  “You let law enforcement try to handle things.  If they won’t do it, you’ve got to take matters into your own hands.  [The Wolves] were getting away with murder out there, and the referees didn’t do nothing.  We had to put a stop to it, and I stepped up.”

The SHL held a disciplinary hearing about the incidents on Tuesday, after which Hogaboom was suspended for one game.  “The SHL is supposed to be family-friendly entertainment,” said Commissioner Perry Mitchell.  “When a player turns a game into a spaghetti Western, as Commissioner I have the responsibility to take action.  The second one in particular, when Hogaboom came off the bench to fight, that was a serious problem.  That’s how a fight can degenerate into mayhem, and I don’t want to see that.  Combine that with his lack of remorse, and a suspension was my only option.

When informed of the suspension, Hogaboom said it was “the cost of doing business” and added, “If the refs had done their damn jobs, this never would have happened.”

The Galaxy and Wolves face off again at Cadillac Place next month.