By Chris Umpierre
ESTERO, Fla. – As two of his teammates play ping pong in front of him, the only Florida Everblade to have won an ECHL Kelly Cup is exercising on a black StairMaster in the back of the club’s weight room.
After a two-hour on-ice practice, Peter Metcalf wasn’t done. He wanted to do more conditioning.
These extra training sessions aren’t unusual for a 29-year-old defenseman who has done nothing but win since high school.
Metcalf has captured five hockey championships since his freshman year of high school. He won two Massachusetts state titles at Cushing Academy (Ashburnham, Mass.) and one NCAA Division I championship at the University of Maine.
Metcalf also owns two Kelly Cup rings as he helped the 2002-03 Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies and the 2005-06 Alaska Aces win it all.
“I shouldn’t say he wants to win. Peter needs to win,” Everblades coach Malcolm Cameron said. “There’s a difference. Everybody wants to win. Needing is something different. When you’re someone who needs to win, you can’t go on without it. It bothers you in your life away from the rink. You feel miserable. (Metcalf) is that type of guy.”
Metcalf, who was selected as the 2007-08 ECHL Defenseman of the Year and was signed this season to help bring leadership to a young Blades squad, credited his former teammates for helping him amass his ring collection.
“I’ve been surrounded by guys who work hard and they’re full of second effort like I am,” said Metcalf, who ranks second in the ECHL in defenseman scoring with 21 points (seven goals) in 29 games. “Second effort is my whole game.”
Metcalf admits he’s not a fast skater. He often gets beat to pucks in the corners, but the 6-foot, 200-pounder makes up for it with guile, intensity and emotion.
Metcalf’s history of winning began at Cushing Academy, which has produced more than 150 NCAA Division I players.
During his sophomore season, Metcalf’s Cushing team went 35-1 and won the state title. The club was so confident that it would win that year that the entire team got a tattoo of the school’s mascot, a Purple Penguin, before the campaign began.
“It was a magical season,” said Metcalf, pointing to his penguin tattoo on his left leg.
Metcalf celebrated more magic in college as he helped Maine reach the Frozen Four in three of his four years there. Metcalf led the Black Bears to the 1998-99 title as a freshman, and he nearly picked up another ring as a senior but Maine lost to Minnesota in overtime of the 2001-02 championship game.
Since he’s been on college and professional championship clubs, Metcalf knows what it takes to win titles. He said the Blades (19-7-2) are the most skilled team he’s ever been on, but that doesn’t mean they’ll bring home the Kelly Cup in June.
“It’s not the most grinding team I’ve been on,” Metcalf said. “We need to get better at the muck and grind game because everybody is beefing up their rosters. Gwinnett is getting better. Mississippi’s good. Like coach said, this year the Kelly Cup is going to be coming out of the South (Division).”
Whether or not Metcalf adds to his ring collection, look for him to re-sign with the team. He and his wife are in the process of purchasing a Fort Myers home, and Metcalf, the oldest player on the Blades, thinks he can play for several more seasons.
“I definitely feel great,” Metcalf said. “Obviously, I can keep up with everybody. It’s not like I’m an old guy out there. And the biggest thing is that I still love the game.”
But most of all, he loves winning.