Upper Island Cove native Robert Slaney balances hockey and school

Nicholas Mercer nmercer@cbncompass.ca
Published on January 22, 2014
Upper Island Cove's Robert Slaney is starring with the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men of the AUS.
Photo by Erica Robert/St. Francis Xavier University

Upper Island Cove native Robert Slaney is a busy man these days.

Along with starring for the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men in Atlantic University Sport (AUS), he is also preparing for life as a doctor with a full course load.

The 25-year-old is in his second year at the school and is working toward a bachelor of kinetics (science) at St. FX with aspirations of going to medical school at Memorial University.

Slaney’s typical day is enough to make even the most dedicated time manager cringe.

It starts with classes from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., which is followed by a three-hour lab until 5 p.m.

Then Slaney has a half-hour break before getting into a two-hour hockey practice from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“That ends just in time for me to hit the library,” he said. “It’s a heavy course load.”

Such is the life of a student athlete.

It can be a challenge sometimes balancing a high-level of athletic competition and school work, but Slaney makes it work.

“I’ve learned how to manage my time,” he said.

Slaney had experience with this sort of thing before. Playing with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, school was a top priority.

“I kind of learned to manage my time quite a bit on the bus,” he said.

Slaney also attributed being a mature student as one of the reasons he has been successful on the ice and in the classroom.

“Being a little older going back to school makes you realize what you want to do and that you’re not 18 years old,” he said.

Despite the heavy course load, Slaney said he has enjoyed his time at St. FX.

“It’s been awesome,” he said.


A starring role

Slaney had to red shirt his first season with the X-Men, meaning he had to sit out a season coming from professional hockey.

However, he did not miss out on any hockey after helping to lead the Eastlink CeeBee Stars to the Herder Memorial Trophy last season.

This season, Slaney has been making up for lost time in the AUS. As of this writing, he sits second on the team in goals  (10) and points (18).

The team has had “some ups and downs,” according to Slaney, this season, but things have been turning around as of late.

The X-Men have played .500 hockey over their last six games and sit with a record of 10-10.

“Right now, we’re sitting in a good position and we’re starting to clear things out and get on the right path,” said Slaney.


Picking things up

Slaney said there was an “adjustment period” coming from senior hockey to the AUS.

“The pace is much quicker and the physical play definitely takes a step up,” he said.

Thankfully, this adjustment period had little to no bearing on the regular season for the former pro.

Slaney used a lengthy exhibition schedule, which lasted roughly a month, to iron out any kinks in his game.

“By the time the regular season came around, I was pretty much back to where I wanted to be,” he said.


Gold medal experience

Earlier this season, Slaney was honoured for his playing ability after he was named to Team Canada for the FISU 2013 Winter Universiade in Trentino, Italy.

“That was arguably one of my better hockey experiences. We went over there, and had a great group of guys and everyone came together pretty quick” he said.

Slaney was joined by X-Men teammates Jason Bast and Michael Kirkpatrick, along with X-Men captain and defenseman Josh Day.

Coincidentally, Kirkpatrick is Slaney’s roommate in Antigonish, NS.

“We got to travel together, which was pretty special,” said Slaney.

He was named to the team in the middle of November after the first eight games of the season.

Canada made it all the way to the final, defeating Kazakhstan 6-2 in the gold medal game.

“To be able to go over there and put on that jersey and come back with a gold is certainly something special,” said Slaney.