In a strange twist of hockey fate, Riese Gaber knows his Team Canada West teammates better than his current MJHL team: Steinbach Pistons. And, how does that work? Well, just days prior to reporting to TCW, he was traded by Dauphin Kings to the Pistons.
“I was traded and then headed out to the World Junior A Challenge,” Gaber says with a laugh. “It all happened pretty fast.”
In the meantime, Gaber is enjoying his time with TCW, despite the fact the club is 0-2 in round-robin play (losses to Czechs and Team USA). The tourney goes all week in Truro, NS.
Gaber, 18, was selected to TCW after attending a recent identification camp which consisted of 60 players: seven MJHL players were invited. It’s his second stint with TCW, an experience he says is “fantastic.”
“I feel a bit more comfortable this time around,” Gaber told the MJHL. “Since I was a returnee, I was expected to be more of a leader in the room and on the ice. Obviously, it’s a huge honour putting on the Team Canada sweater.
“The tournament is very competitive; a very, very quick pace of play. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Gaber, who hails from Gilbert Plains, was acquired by the Pistons from the Dauphin Kings in a trade saw the Pistons trade Danny Pion F (1998), the MJHL List Rights to Matt Boonstra D (2001), 2018 MJHL 5th round pick and future considerations to the Kings in exchange for Gaber.
At the time of the trade, Gaber was leading the Kings in scoring with 15 goals and 21 points in 27 games.
“I actually know a few of the Pistons,” he said. “Darby Gula, William Koop…..I know they have a great group of guys and have a really competitive team. I’m really looking forward to when I can join them.”
First things first: helping TCW advance to the medal round at the WJAC. Nine of the 11 gold-medal games at the World Junior A Challenge have featured at least one Canadian team. Team Canada West won gold at the first two tournaments, in 2006 and 2007, and also took home gold in 2011 and 2015. The team also won silver medals in 2008, 2009, and 2012, as well as bronze in 2013.
Team Canada West players were selected from the CJHL’s five western Junior A leagues: the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), and Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).
Kevin Saurette of the MJHL (Hockey Operations Director) is TCW’s hockey ops director, while Riley Kosmolak (Steinbach) is Equipment Manager.