Unionist and Ice Hockey champion
Third-year apprentice Andy Erzen has a secret life. He plays left wing for Melbourne Ice. That’s right – ice hockey. And he’s been playing it for nearly ten years – since The Mighty Ducks captured his imagination as a 14-year-old inline skater.
Andy told The ETU, ‘We play a similar style to North American ice hockey – physically hard and aggressive. Just the way I like it’.
The game is becoming increasingly popular in Melbourne, despite our climate. When it’s not touring interstate, Melbourne Ice plays in front of sold-out crowds at the Medibank Ice House in Docklands.
‘It’s getting bigger every year. And we run a professional-style team – the only thing missing is the money!’ laughed Andy.
Three out of three beats Meatloaf
And Ice is pretty good at what it does. For the third year in row, the team captured the national championship. Ice’s 2012 season was the subject of a documentary that was recently shown on Fox Sports.
‘It’s called Road to 3peat,’ says Andy. ‘We had a camera crew follow us around for the entire season – both on and off the ice. Foxtel took it up, and now the producers are negotiating with HBO to have it shown in the US.’
But, like most physical sports players, Andy has experienced the painful downside of ice hockey.
‘I tore a meniscus in my knee and copped an injury to my shoulder towards the end of this season. It only kept me off the ice for a couple of games, but I still had to take it easy.’
Taking it easy is not something Andy likes to do. The 2012 season ended in September, and he is already in serious training for the 2013 season that starts next April – somewhere between working and studying for his trade certificate.
Old head, young shoulders
Andy is just 23 years old, but he already gets why it is better for him to be part of the Union.
‘I was in Domestic when I signed up to the ETU as a second-year apprentice. Listening to the other blokes talk, it sounded like it would be a smart move,’ he recalls.
Andy knew the benefits that would flow, and he didn’t have to wait long. He had heard that the best jobs were Union jobs, and he wanted to move out of Domestic and across to Commercial. So he got in touch with ETU Branch Apprentices Organiser, Omar Merhi for advice.
‘Omar…gave me a list of companies to contact. I got a start at IES Group pretty much straightaway.’
Now in his third year with IES, Andy is enjoying the work, keeping up his studies, and looking forward to a long career as a sparkie. And quite a few more seasons on the ice.