1-on-1 with Peter DiLiberatore, Ben McCartney and Montana Onyebuchi

Tucson Roadrunners Defenseman Peter DiLiberatore, Forward Ben McCartney and Defenseman Montana Onyebuchi joined Jonathon Schaffer, Kim Cota-Robles and Arizona Daily Star Sports Editor Brett Fera this week for a Special Edition of Roadrunners Happy Hour. Catch Happy Hour every Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Fox Sports 1450 AM and the Roadrunners Happy Hour Podcast on the iHeartRadio app. For the complete episode, and to hear Montana’s point of view from last year’s line brawl from San Jose, download below.

Listen to “Round Table Special” on Spreaker.

Ben McCartney

Q: The team has been having a really good season and you’ve been out there battling. Can you tell us what the journey has been like with the injuries you’ve dealt with and being able to get back out on the ice?

Yeah, it’s just a part of the game and I’m happy to be out there. There’s always some adversity during seasons and you just have to overcome it. When you’re in the lineup, you just give it your all. We have a good group of guys here, a really close group, and we’re having a really good season. We just want to keep it going and go far in the playoffs.

Q: One word we keep hearing is connected. You all seem like a really good group of friends when you’re away from the ice as well.

Yeah, I think that’s like the biggest part about being a team is that not just on ice, but off ice. I think just the character we have in the room, and the older guys that came in, they’re doing a great job just including everyone in here. We’re just firing on all cylinders on ice, but off ice, we always enjoy being around each other.

Peter Diliberatore

Q: How did the college experience serve you compared to going the junior route? You got to play for a program that you saw win a national title recently (Quinnipiac University NCAA National Champions). I have to imagine that was fun watching them from afar. But tell us a little bit about the college experience and how that played a role in your ability to grow into a career as a professional player.

Yeah, that’s a good question. For me, I mean, growing up, I was always a smaller guy. So, myself, my parents, we kind of knew that I needed a little bit more time. I had a lot of time to develop, to grow, all that kind of stuff. And so, for me, the college route was just a better route for me, for my path, and it helped me play those minutes. Even though I’m undersized, going to prep school for two years and then going to Quinnipiac freshman year was just unreal. The coaching staff, to the players, to the school itself. It was just such a great environment for me, for my confidence, school-wise, hockey-wise, everything just worked out so perfectly. I think I just took full advantage of it with a trainer, and he helped me develop that confidence and get that kind of swagger going. So, I have to thank them for honestly my career and all that kind of stuff. It was incredible, great memories and great friends that will last a lifetime. I still see them to this day. I actually saw one of my good buddies this Sunday. We had a golf round. He’s got a house up in Phoenix. So, yeah, it’s one of those things that just doesn’t go away, it lasts a lifetime.  I’ll be forever grateful for that.

Q: How do you balance being such a young guy and also a professional hockey player? Are there things that you still aren’t so good at or maybe are still learning about living on your own or being an adult?

Yeah, for sure. I mean, the first couple of years pro is definitely a whirlwind. You play more games than college and I think college helped teach me those cooking skills, meal prep and balance with school, all that kind of stuff. So then when you come pro, you have more time of just sitting at home and wondering, okay, what now? These past couple years, I definitely learned how to balance. Oh, just okay, you have a lazy day or okay, maybe hit the range and hit a couple golf balls or whatever, hit the movies with a couple of buddies, stuff like that. So, you definitely learn to kind of balance it more without the school aspect of it. Obviously, you’re away from family and stuff like that. So yeah, you just have fun with the guys that you’re playing with and bring out kind of little stuff to do, hobbies to pick up, you know, board games, cards, whatever it might be, movies. I think you find a nice little balance and I think you just have to have a routine and you stick with it, but at the same time you’re a professional. So, you have to take care of yourself, look after what you got to do and make sure you put the work in.

Montana Onyebuchi

Q: Anyone you’ve tussled with in the past that you’re currently playing with right now and you guys kind of joke about it still?

Of all guys, it’s Ryan McGregor (October 29, 2022 Tucson at San Jose). So, they were getting at it before the face-off, whatever. And I just started pushing Jenik and then Gregs comes in and hits me and then like bumps me from behind, hits me in the lip, gives me a fat lip. So, I turned around. I’m furious at this point. And then we got into a little fight.

Q: What do you think is the biggest rivalry for us right now? I feel like there might be a few answers. What do you think?

I think Coachella Valley and Ontario, for sure. Ontario, it’s a chippy game. Like, just hate losing to those guys. It’s always a battle with those guys. They always steal points from us. They always answer and they always come back and that’s what kind of our identity has been all year. So, I think that’s been a big rivalry for us. And then, from last year, you know, there’s always that Coachella Valley, I wasn’t on the team, losing to Coachella Valley in the playoffs. It’s just kind of bad blood and just kind of a bad taste in everybody’s mouth. So, I think that’s kind of a good rivalry as well.