By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
When Trevor Cheek was a young hockey draftee, he struggled with his confidence. He didn’t believe he deserved to be on the ice with some of his idols.
Last summer, the 25-year-old Tucson Roadrunners forward honed his skills at an ice rink in Scottsdale with NHL players. He felt perfectly at home.
“It’s always good to skate with some of the NHL guys,” Cheek says. “It’s helped me overcome my confidence issues. I just believe I can be out there with them.”
Now he’s the Roadrunners’ elder statesman. The guys on the team look up to him and he’s happy to help.
“It’s crazy how hockey’s trending so much toward the younger game,” Cheek says. “I’m one of the older guys on the team in Tucson.
“I don’t feel too old. Twenty-five is not too old to me, but I love being around the young kids. I was one of those kids just starting to play professionally. I give insight and help any way I can. We have a lot of really good young kids in the organization and they’re awesome. They all want to get better.”
Fans can see for themselves when the Tucson Roadrunners begin their third season in the Old Pueblo with an I-8 border rivalry game against the San Diego Gulls on Saturday, October 6, at Tucson Arena. For tickets, call 1.866.774.6253.
In July, the Roadrunners re-signed Cheek to a one-year contract. Last season, he recorded four goals and six assists for 10 points in 27 games with the Roadrunners. Cheek also registered nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points in 20 games with the Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL).
This will be Cheek’s third season in Tucson, one of just seven players to be with the club in each year of its existence. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, the left-handed forward from Vancouver, Washington, enters his sixth professional season and third as a part of the Tucson organization.
Besides Tucson, Cheek has played professionally in Cleveland, San Antonio and Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“Trevor was once again an important part of our forward group last year and we’re happy to have him in a Roadrunners sweater,” says Roadrunners General Manager Steve Sullivan. “Trevor’s experience and work ethic are very valuable to us.”
Hockey is in Cheek’s blood. His grandfather grew up in the French-Canadian town of Bedford, Quebec, and played hockey. The family moved to the Van Nuys, California, area, where his grandfather coached Cheek’s dad.
“They were the first generation of hockey players in California,” Cheek says. “I was born there, and I played hockey for a couple years there, having my dad coach me.”
The family then moved to Washington state and Cheek played there before traveling to Arizona to play hockey as a 15-year-old. He was a youth hockey player before junior hockey.
“I stuck around every summer and battled the heat,” Cheek says.
Cheek attended Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale and schools in Washington. He is still close with his former host family in North Scottsdale, Rich and Tenley Shaw.
“I spent half of my sophomore year at Desert Mountain High School, then I traveled back home when hockey season ended,” he says. “Then I played baseball. My junior year, I decided to fully go for hockey. I started spending the full year in Scottsdale training and playing hockey.”
Cheek spends his offseason training in Scottsdale. His and the rest of the team’s training paid off, as the Roadrunners finished first in the conference.
“The crowds for the few home playoff games were awesome,” says Cheek, who counts hockey players Anze Kopitar and Luc Robitaille among his idols. “The city is behind us and we want to keep that going into this season. We want the fanbase to grow larger. Tucson is great. I’m blessed to be able to be there.”
When Cheek isn’t playing hockey, he’s in his kitchen or on the golf course.
“There are nice courses in Scottsdale and they’re cheap in the summer, if you can stick it out in the sun,” he says with a laugh.
“I’m really into cooking. I like to cook all my meals. I have a little more time now than during the season. I just experiment and whip up meals. I do make sweet potato hash a lot. I cook it for people and they always say it’s good. It’s one of my trademarks.”
Like all minor-league hockey players, Cheek’s goal is to play in the NHL.
“I want to keep getting better and strive toward that,” he says. “My main focus is obviously with Tucson because that’s the contract I’m on. I just want to have another good year and help the younger kids.”
For tickets, visit tucsonroadrunners.com.