Hanging up his skates after 13 years as a pro, the last thing Jason Hewitt expected to be doing was playing on a regular basis again. But, after being approached by Hull Pirates owner Shane Smith and player-coach Dominic Osman, Hewitt just could not resist.
And his arrival in East Yorkshire has coincided with an upturn in fortunes for the club which endured a tough debut season in the English Premier League, going on to miss out on the play-offs.
But a full summer of preparation and recruitment – including the key signing of Hewitt – has worked wonders for the Pirates, who sit third in the table after 12 games.
“This wasn’t planned by any means – I wasn’t going to do anything in terms of playing,” said Hewitt, whose day job sees him working as a sales rep for hockey kit supplier Bauer. “But an opportunity came up and, after talking it rough with my wife, I decided to give it a go.
“After playing in the EIHL all my career I didn’t know what to expect, but we’ve got some great players here – both youngsters and imports – and we’ve had a promising start.
“It’s exciting hockey. I play a lot of minutes and I’m in some situations that I’ve not played in for a long time such as the powerplay so it’s been good.”
Hewitt has adapted quickly to life in what many regard as the seond tier of UK hockey, scoring 17 points in 12 games, including six goals.
This week sees Hull travel to Peterborough on Saturday night before hosting Swindon Wildcats 24 hours later (5.30pm), two games Hewitt and his team-mates will be confident of winning to keep up the pressureon the top two of Telford Tigers and Milton Keynes Lightning.
“We’ve got three strong lines and that is probably what has surprised me the most,” added Hewitt. “I didn’t think we’d have as much depth as we do.
“There were a lot of things that went into coming here, such as their schedule and when they practise and stuff like that - it just made it something that I could actually do and I knew Dominic through playing against him and I’d known Shane a long time because he used to sponsor the Steelers.
“About a week before it was announced, we had a good chat and I liked what they were trying to do and it has worked out to be a really good fit. Dominic is doing a good job here.
“It was obviously agreed that work has to come first if things ever clash, but for the most part we’ve been quite fortunate and there haven’t been many times where that has happened - I’ve missed a couple of practises but Shane and Ozzy knew that that would happen.”