This week’s guest is Head Coach of the NAIT Ooks Mens Hockey Team, Mike Gabinet. Mike grew up and played all of his minor hockey in Edmonton. He went on to play four years for the University of Nebraska in the NCAA where he served as team captain and was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 2001. His career took him around the world to play in the Finnish Elite League, Sweden and North America. Mike was named Head Coach this summer after serving three years as associate coach with the team.
1. You were an NCAA guy, can you explain why you chose to go this route versus the WHL?
I think the decision is a very personal one and I would recommend that each player who has to make this choice talk to a number of people who have taken each route.
I chose NCAA for a number of reasons:
1) I thought it would give me the best opportunity to develop as a player. The practice to game ratio of four days of practice to 2 games was optimal. The training facilities were excellent and the in-season and off-season training programs were very well developed.
2) The opportunity to continue my education as a full time student was very important.
3) The college environment as a student athlete was something I wanted to experience.
2. What has led you into coaching?
My passion for the game continues and coaching lets me be a part of a group that is focused on achieving goals that can only be achieved as a team. Working with a great group of student athletes and helping them to achieve academic and athletic success at a great school like NAIT is a privilege. Being in an enthusiastic, incredibly hard working environment, where people work together, push their individual and team comfort zones, and make sacrifices for the good of the team is an awesome experience. Being part of the leadership that supports reaching our potential as a team is the ultimate feeling of success.
3. What is it about the NAIT Men’s Hockey program that has led your team to be so successful over the last few years?
I think it is a combination of a lot of factors. The first is we’ve been fortunate to have a number of outstanding student athletes come to play at NAIT, commit to our hockey program and work very hard at developing their skills as a team. Our Athletic Director has provided us with the environment and leadership to develop an excellent program. Finally, over the last five years, Serge Lajoie put in the work to provide the ground floor leadership that brought the compete level of the program up to where we achieved some success. Our current group of athletes and coaches continues working very hard every day to push this bar higher.
4. What advice would you give to a player who has finished their 20 year old Junior season and is torn over continuing to play ECHL, CHL, ETC…. versus going to school and getting an education?
Similar to the first question, I would advise them to talk to a number of people who have chosen different routes and then make the decision that is best for them personally. I do hope that at some point they chose to get an education. At NAIT we have a unique opportunity for players. We are able to meet their academic needs no matter where they are at. They can even pursue a professional career and then come to NAIT and play without having to sit out a year. As an example, Klarc Wilson, one of our first year players, joined us after playing in the ECHL last year. A number of our players have also gone on to play pro after they have completed their education and developed their hockey skills at NAIT.
NAIT OOKS MENS HOCKEY TEAM
The NAIT Ooks Mens Hockey Team has a proud and rich history of winning spanning over five decades. The team has won two of the last four ACAC Championships and is looking to defend their title this year as they are red hot and sit with a record of 16-0 on the season. For more information on the team including Schedule, Roster and Coaching Staff visit : http://www.nait.ca/65782.htm
More on Competitive Thread
Competitive Thread is located in Sherwood Park, Alberta and is Western Canada’s leader in athlete testing and hockey development. They have worked with teams and athletes in the National Hockey League, the Canadian Hockey League and Minor Hockey teams and players across Western Canada. They take a holistic and balanced approach to development and aim to positively contribute to the individual growth of each athlete both on and off the ice. For more information visit www.competitvethread.com or call us at 780-267-5795.