When the Columbia Valley Rockies hockey team takes to the ice of Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena later this year, they’ll have a wealth of experience on their side thanks to former NHL netminder and Invermere native Wade Dubielewicz.
“Hockey has been a part of my life since I can remember, so it’s nice to come back and get involved and give back a little bit,” Dubielewicz told The Valley Echo.
Dubielewicz recently agreed to become the new goaltending coach for the Rockies after spending the 2010-11 season with the Cologne Sharks of the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga before his retirement. A former University of Denver standout, Dubielewicz entered the NHL as an undrafted free agent with the New York Islanders in 2003. After joining the Islanders American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Dubielewicz, or “Dubie” as he was known, became a fan favourite after setting several club and AHL records, and was recognized with the Dudley Garrett Memorial Award as the top rookie in the AHL that year. Dubielewicz went on to play for three NHL teams over his career, recording a .914 save percentage in over 2,000 minutes of NHL action.
“I recently retired and I took a little time away from hockey, so I’m starting to get the itch to get involved again,” Dubielewicz said. “I’ve had a lot of experience in my life with hockey and I’ll be able to pass that along to the kids.”
The Columbia Valley Rockies, entering their second season under head coach and general manager Marc Ward, are looking to make big strides this season after a disappointing 2011-2012 campaign that saw them miss the playoffs by a wide margin. Dubielewicz should certainly help a team that allowed an average of over seven goals per game last season, and Ward is optimistic that Dubielewicz’s NHL experience will pay huge dividends.
“I think he brings a lot of experience from the playing side of things, and he can help the guys with how to train and the mental preparation and a lot of what it takes to get to that next level,” Ward said. “He played here and went up the ranks… I think the guys are going to get a real good sense of how hard they do need to work to achieve their goals.”
While Ward said they hadn’t yet hammered out all the details of what Dubielewicz will be involved in, Ward said he was excited to learn from him.
Dubielewicz, eager to learn from the existing coaching staff as well, said the hardest adjustment in moving to coaching from playing would probably be learning not to get so emotionally involved, and instead learn to see things from a more detached viewpoint. He also said he was looking forward to working with the players on the Rockies squad, to help them try and achieve their career goals.
“I enjoy working with kids, the youth and energy they have… it’s a lot of fun and it keeps you young,” Dubielewicz said. “These kids are at a young age, and there’s a lot of distractions, and being able to focus and commit to something is not an easy thing to do.”