Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University
Rob Moura is a huge hockey fan and will be among the Northeastern faithful watching the Huskies compete in the NCAA tournament Friday afternoon. But he’ll be watching the game in a much different way than the crowd at U.S. Bank Arena, and most certainly viewers watching at home. In fact, he’ll be doing more than watching—he’ll also be listening, very closely.
Moura is the men’s hockey team’s equipment manager, and one of his many roles is to quickly handle equipment issues the Huskies encounter during games. And he’s come to know the sounds to listen for. If a player goes to stop and his skate chatters against the ice rather than slides, Moura immediately knows something’s up. If he hears a certain “ping” when a puck hits a stick, he knows the stick might require attention. And if a player snaps a stick, he hears the crack and is ready to grab a replacement.
Moura is in his sixth season at Northeastern, and his first full season as head equipment manager for men’s ice hockey. As we spoke during Thursday’s practice, he outlined his work during tournaments like this one. After practice, he prepares the locker room for game day. He does all the laundry, gets the skates sharpened to each player’s preference (he knows all 25 by memory), replaces or repairs any equipment needing attention, and puts out the game jerseys and socks.
“My job is to have them walk into the same setup every game, whether we’re at home or on the road, and come into the locker room and not have to ask me for anything,” he said. “I just want them to focus on winning.”
What are the critical factors to doing his job well? Repetition, preparation, and time management, he said. And his job hardly begins at the arena. It’s well beforehand, by making sure all the team’s equipment is ready for the trip. For road games, that means bringing and keeping track of 130 sticks, 50 pairs of skates and laces, 24 rolls of tape, extra gloves and pads, and even a needle and thread.
And Moura is well organized, and insists on overseeing every aspect of the pre-game equipment preparations.
“One of my biggest fears, especially when we’re flying, is leaving something behind,” he said. “All the guys are great. They always ask if I need any help. And I just tell them it’s nothing personal, but it’s going to be a long flight if I’m not the one who does it.”
Yes, this work can get tedious at times, and the hours crazy. But Moura takes great pride in putting in the time and effort required to help the Huskies be as successful as they can be. He said he loves being part of the team. But he’s the guy behind the scenes, and that’s just fine with him.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “My goal is to be prepared for everything and hope for the best.”