Liam Peyton is exactly what you want as a role model on a hockey team. The 20-year-old is a leader on the ice, but more importantly, he’s a leader in his community.
The Halifax Mooseheads forward is involved with so many causes that it could represent a full-time job for many people. And he does it all with a smile.
“I joined the Hockey Gives Blood program this summer”, explains Peyton. “For me, it was a way to give back. There is so much need for blood in the medical world and they have so many uses for it that I wasn’t even aware of!”
Peyton is quick to credit one of his ex-teammates with the Charlottetown Islanders, with whom he spent the first three season of his QMJHL career, for giving him the chance to get involved with such an important program.
“I started doing some of my own research but I was fortunate enough to have a guy like Matthew Welsh around last year to help me out. He guided me through the whole process”, explains the Orleans, Ontario native.
“It’s just a way for us athletes to have a good community presence, to promote donating blood, to help people in need and be role models for others”, says the veteran says who’s happy to lend a hand.
“For me, it is a big thing to give back. I was fortunate enough my whole life to be healthy and to be able to do what I love”, says a humble Peyton. “But there are other people who haven’t been as fortunate in terms of enjoying a healthy kind of life. It’s really important for me to give something back to those people.”
Liam Peyton is also involved in another Mooseheads project that’s very dear to his heart: Halifax’s Military Member of the Game.
“It’s a tribute to the people in the Canadian Forces. For me it’s a big deal, because my dad [Paul] is a brigadier-general and he is serving over in Iraq right now”, explains the veteran forward.
“It was an opportunity for me to show how grateful I am for what they do. It was a good fit for me because I’ve been around that life since I was born”, he adds.
When the team needed volunteers to help with that program, he was the first to sign up.
“I know exactly what the military means to those families and how important it is for our country”, Peyton explains. “I feel pretty fortunate that I was given the opportunity to salute those military members, give them [Mooseheads] jerseys and show our organization’s appreciation, as well as my own, for their work.”
Despite his father not being around much when a young Peyton was growing up, he’s always had tremendous respect for his work.
“My dad did a lot of tours. When I was born, he was over in Bosnia. And then, when I was two or three years old, he went back there”, explains the winger. “A little later, he went to Afghanistan, and then when I was 11, he went to Israel. He’s also done some training in the U.S. with the American Forces, so he has been gone quite a bit.”
“There have been days I wish I could have shared with him, especially for things I did in hockey”, says the Ontarian. “This year, I’m playing for a very special organization and he’s in Iraq. I know he’d love to be here and watch me play, but at the end of the day, what he’s doing is very important. I’ve always kept that in mind.”
“He’s proud of me, but I’m also a very proud son. I am grateful for what he does”, adds Peyton, who admits that following in his dad’s footsteps is something he’s considered.
“It’s something that has always crossed my mind. My dad explained the similarities between hockey and the military. I’m not sure if it’s my ideal plan right now, but I know how cool of an experience it is to serve and protect our country.”
But right now, hockey is his life.
“Hockey is obviously the main goal right now and it’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid”, says the winger. “When you progress in your career, [that dream] becomes more and more realistic. Being a 20-year-old, I’m after a pro contract.”
Whether he finds a job in hockey, or perhaps even in the military, Peyton has a solid plan B in the works.
“The education package that comes with playing in the QMJHL is amazing”, he admits. “I’m studying psychology at St. Mary’s University in Halifax right now. Something in that field would probably be my second option.”