RiverKings' Mantha Inherits the Family Business

By: Will Wodka
December 19, 2013

SOUTHAVEN, Miss.—Back in the day, many kids grew up working inside their father’s shop or restaurant in hopes of one day taking it over. The same can be said for the Mantha Family, who put a spin on the traditional “family business.”

The Mantha’s long-standing tradition of hockey began with Devin’s grandfather, playing on the blue line throughout his career for several leagues including the AHL and the old WHL. Devin’s father, Moe, continued in his footsteps and built a 13-year NHL career while playing the same position. Devin, on the other hand, wanted to break the defensive mold early on.

“I’m the first forward in the family which is a little odd,” said Devin, who was not a fan of being behind the play. “I like scoring goals too much and didn’t have the patience to watch others score.”

While using his connections from his playing days, Moe was able to get his son’s career off the ground by contacting Dale Hawerchuk in Orangeville, Ont. With family members in the surrounding area, Devin headed north to play for Hawerchuk and the Crushers.

“I learned how to be a more offensively minded forward and expanded on my scoring skills,” said Devin. “Coach Hawerchuk was a great guy to learn from, and I was fortunate enough to have one of the NHL’s top-20 leading goal scorers as a coach.”

In his second season in Orangeville, Devin led the team in scoring as the Crushers recorded their first winning season in nearly a decade. With offers coming his way, Devin knew he needed to move on and looked to his family for advice. After consulting his mom, he decided to head to college.

“She always wanted me to get an education,” said Devin. “I knew other leagues offered school plans, but those are never guaranteed, so I figured I would give college a try.”

Devin packed his bags and headed to Miami University of Ohio, but wanted a change after arriving. Unable to get enough playing time in his two seasons with the Redhawks, Devin transferred to University of Wisconsin at Eau-Claire.

The crowning moment in his collegiate career came as a senior when Eau-Claire earned a spot in the Division III Frozen Four Championship game against Oswego State. It was the first D III Frozen Four Championship appearance in school history.

“It was quite the experience. They flew us out to Lake Placid, the site of the 1980 USA Olympic hockey game, and gave us the same locker room the Men’s team used,” said Devin. “It was an ‘awestruck’ moment sitting there and after you let it sink in, you let your imagination fill in the blanks.”

Devin didn’t need an imagination to create a hockey moment of his own in Lake Placid. With his team up 3-2 heading into the third, Devin received a breakaway pass to stick it behind Oswego State goaltender Andrew Hare that later became the game-winning goal. That championship game proved to be a true test for Devin, who played with multiple injuries.

“I had a broken left wrist and wore a brace from my elbow to my fingers, and had six stitches in my right hand from a skate cut,” explained Devin. “I couldn’t move my arm much so I had to learn how to stick-handle differently that hindered my game a bit.”

After his collegiate career, Devin headed to Missouri looking for a roster spot on the Mavericks of the Central Hockey League, but was let go after their first game of the season. Down but not out, Devin turned around and took RiverKings Coach Derek Landmesser’s invite to camp.

Since the invite, Devin has rewarded the RiverKings. Devin’s three goals and five assists place him 16th in the league in points by a rookie. Devin is always looking to improve his game and talks to his dad often.

“Earlier this year, I had a chance to score and got slashed and whiffed on the shot, I talked to my dad the next day and he told me ‘you got to shoot to score, shoot for your life man’,” laughed Devin.

An unconventional business has led the Mantha family to grow and build a stronger bond with each other. Devin is not sure where his career will take him next but hopes to build a strong reputation and follow in his family’s footsteps in professional hockey.

About the Mississippi RiverKings
The Mississippi RiverKings are supported by their community partners, season ticket holders, fans, and by program-related investments of the Maddox Foundation, an independent private foundation based in Hernando, Miss. To find out more about the RiverKings, call 662-342-1755 or visit www.riverkings.com.

Photo Credit: John Coffin

Devin Mantha (pictured) followed the footsteps of his grandfather and father in playing professional hockey. 

Posted by David Schmoll at 9:30 AM

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