Brett Gibson reflects on success

Men's hockey head coach heads to Kazakhstan to coach Canada at FISU games

Brett Gibson has the Gaels at 16-6 this year.
Brett Gibson has the Gaels at 16-6 this year.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Gaels’ men’s hockey coach Brett Gibson has been enjoying his fair share of success behind the bench for the Gaels, with a 16-6 record this season. This level of success has put many people on notice, including Hockey Canada. 

In early December, Coach Gibson received the offer from U Sports to lead the top university hockey players in an exhibition series against the Canadian Junior National Team, in preparation for the World Junior Hockey Championships. 

“It was an unbelievable experience and it was truly humbling,” Gibson said. “Anytime you get to hang around Hockey Canada for four and a half days, the knowledge you gain and take back to your own program is priceless. It makes you step back and wonder ‘why me?’, but you also know that it’s a great honour.”

Working with some of the most talented players in U Sports, Coach Gibson recognized that there would be some challenges to deal with. With only two practices before the showcase began, it left little time to bring everyone together.

“You really have to set the tone with your initial talk to them when they walk in the room, and I thought we did a good job,” Gibson said. “They had to take their school colours off and come together as one, and they’re all professionals, so we jelled really quickly.”

There’s an often-quoted myth that if you’re playing university hockey in Canada, your NHL dreams are over. However, in the past, the U-Sports All-Star showcase has been a bridge for university players still looking to turn pro. NHL scouts have taken notice of the game, and just last year alone, eight players from the U-Sports team were invited to NHL training camps.

“The opportunity for the kids who were playing was tremendous,” said Gibson. “U-Sports sometimes get overlooked, and these are great hockey players. For them to play in front of the NHL scouts again, I was excited for them.”

Building upon his efforts at the showcase, Coach Gibson has also been invited to take part in the FISU Winter Universiade, as the coach of the Canadian Hockey team, in Almaty, Kazakhstan starting January 30. The FISU Winter Universiade is the second biggest congregation of athletes, next to the Olympics. It has long been a dream for Coach Gibson to represent Canada at an event of this magnitude.

“You always dream, and I guess the best part about it is that one of my dreams is coming true,” Gibson said. “It’ll be something I get to remember for the rest of my life, which is truly something I cherish.”

Gibson won’t be the lone Gael at the event. Forwards Slater Doggett and Eric Ming, defensemen Spencer Abraham and goalie Kevin Bailie have joined the coach in Kazakhstan.

The success Coach Gibson has enjoyed haven’t come easy. It’s been a long journey, but he’s starting to prove all the critics wrong.

“The journey has been great,” he said. “People always told it would be tough to win at Queen’s, and well, we proved that myth wrong. Everyone told me, kids from the OHL or Major Junior wouldn’t come to Queen’s, well that myth was wrong too.”

Coach Gibson believes in having an attitude of always working hard, no matter who tells you that you can or can’t do something and to never give up. 

“If you work hard, you have a vision and you have a plan, you can be successful,” Gibson said. “It’s been a great story, but I’m not done yet. I’ve got a lot of chapters left to go, and that’s where my focus is right now.”

 

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