Roadrunners players Matt Villalta, Zach Sanford and Hutner Drew stepped off the ice and into El Torero restaurant in South Tucson to learn about the cultural significance of tamales.

“Never had tamales,” admitted Drew, who is from Ontario. “Never really heard of them, being Canadian.”

Villalta is also from Ontario, while Sanford is from New England. Their teacher, the restaurant’s head chef, is Tucsonan Michael Hultquist.

“It’s cool to show someone from another part of the country or part of the world something they wouldn’t necessarily expect,” said Hultquist.

First, they did a round table discussion.

“The green corn tamale from here is like the delicacy of the lower region of the state,” Hultquist told the players.

Then, it was on to the kitchen where Hultquists’ assistants were already spending hours with the corn-based dough mixture filled with various meets, beans and cheeses. The players were impressed.

“Endless respect,” shared Drew. “We’re back in the kitchen and to see the work they are putting in, and the effort it takes.”

It was then the players’ turn to help roll some tamales before enjoying them. Tamales are known for bringing generations together. On this day, it was three Roadrunner hockey players turn to get a taste of Tucson they will always remember.

“The whole process behind it and the history behind it, I think that’s really cool to take home with me,” expressed Drew.