In June, former Castlegar Rebels goalie Patrick Zubick got the incredible opportunity to play for Team Canada in pre-qualifying games in Chicago for the Deaflympics.
It has been a while since he played in a competitive setting, so being able to compete and contribute was great. Zubick felt the level of competition was good and he wasn’t sure what to expect heading into the games, but was pleasantly surprised.
“Our team has some very high-level hockey players and athletes who have played in multiple Deaflympics and World championships on top of their college and Junior hockey experiences,” he said. “Team USA also has players with extensive hockey pedigrees, and any time Team USA and Canada play on the international stage, the competition will be fierce.
“It was a tremendous experience to play for Team Canada,” continued Zubick. “Team USA hosted a fantastic weekend of hockey, and we were treated very well while in Chicago.”
Zubick said he feels every kid playing hockey envisions playing for their country at some point. He did.
“To have this opportunity is something I will never forget, and to be able to play against Team USA made it all the more special,” said Zubick, a Master of Science student in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia. “We played two games over the weekend, and we had two goaltenders, so we split each game 50/50. We won both games, and I felt as though I played well.”
Zubick, 25, was contacted in late 2019 to see if he was interested in playing at an international event to be hosted in Vancouver in the Fall of 2020, but with COVID-19, the event was cancelled. He did not hear much until this winter when the plan for games in Chicago started to materialize. Zubick has been invited back to compete in the next event whenever that occurs. Following his great experience, Zubick hopes to contribute more.
Zubick credits his time in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) for preparing him for higher levels and life.
“The KIJHL was the perfect place to start my junior hockey career and allowed me to play a high level of hockey, in a large competitive league for my hometown team,” he said. “I competed against many other high-level athletes who also went on to play higher levels of hockey, which was extremely beneficial for me.”
After playing in the KIJHL, Zubick moved on to Junior A in the MJHL and SIJHL. He then played three seasons in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League with the now defunct Selkirk Saints and more recently, Simon Fraser University in 2019-20.