CEDAR PARK — Maxime Fortunus embodies hockey in Central Texas.
As the team’s captain, he’s the public face of the Texas Stars, but the 31-year-old defenseman’s persona also is tightly woven into Austin’s small but growing hockey community.
It’s not surprising to find Fortunus at either of Austin’s full-time ice rinks, the Pond Hockey Club or Chaparral Ice, coaching youth league players, including his oldest son, Malik, who’s 7. He’s always encouraging the kids in his neighborhood to play street hockey, and after a recent Stars practice at Chaparral Ice, he introduced himself to a young boy and his father who had been watching practice, causing the boy’s face to light up with excitement.
“When you’re coming to play hockey in Texas, you don’t know what to expect,” Fortunus said, “but right away people kind of embraced the team six years ago. It’s been really, really good. Hockey’s grown (here), and the youth hockey has been growing, too. I’ve been seeing that firsthand with my son. … I’ve always tried to give back.”
Fortunus has given much more to the Dallas Stars organization than the statistics listed on his trading card.