Winning is a way of life for Kelowna Rockets centre Dillon Dube. He’s captured three championships in the last three years, as he won the Ed Chynoweth Cup with the Rockets last season and league titles with the Notre Dame ‘AAA’ midget Argos and Notre Dame ‘AAA’ bantam Hounds in 2013-14 and 2012-13 respectively.
“I was able to learn a lot playing on teams like that,” says Dube, who’s ranked as a B-list prospect (potential second or third rounder) by NHL Central Scouting Service. “Being on teams that have had that type of success has shown me what it takes to win. It was a great experience to play on those Notre Dame teams and I was given a great opportunity there. I don’t know of too many players my age that played as much as I did on the midget team. And last year was a great experience here in Kelowna to win a WHL championship.”
A testament to Dube’s dedication to the game is how he moved away from Cochrane, Alta., at just 14 years old to play for the prestigious Athol Murray College of Notre Dame program in Wilcox, Sk. Moreover, he did so without even checking out the school before he packed his things.
“I knew I wanted to be a hockey player and Notre Dame was the place to help me become one or become a better one,” he says. “My family and I decided together and Notre Dame gave me an opportunity to play there. I didn’t even take a tour of the school before I committed to it. I just knew I wanted to go there."
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Dube feels his time at Notre Dame helped ease his transition into the WHL as a 16-year-old rookie last year. He was mentally prepared to live away from his parents and spent countless hours on the ice in Wilcox.
“Notre Dame definitely prepared me for my move to Kelowna,” says Dube, who possesses elite speed and soft hands. “I was living in dorms there, but I got used to living away from home. Sometimes it’s tough on 16-year-old rookies in the WHL, but I was ready for it because of that. I also developed a lot at Notre Dame because you get to practice pretty much as much as you want and they have that all setup for you.”
Dube, 17, has noticeably elevated his game in his second season with the Rockets this year. He plays with more confidence and has a bigger role in the team’s offense partially because of the club’s offseason departures. It has showed in his stats, as he's scored 10 goals and 24 points in his first 17 games following netting 27 points in 45 contests last year.
“I feel I hit my stride in the playoffs last year and just wanted to continue to keep that going this year,” he says. “I have more experience this year and owe credit to my teammates because we all help each other out and work as a team.”
1. With you having an older brother, Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL) defender Jake Dube, do you think that has helped your game because of the healthy competition that goes with that?
“It’s great having an older brother. Every offseason we push each other with training and everything. It’s competition that I think benefits both of us and pushes both of us to work harder.”
2. Was there a moment last year when you lined up against an NHL prospect or played with one where you realized that you have made it to the big leagues of junior hockey?
“When my coach told me I was going to play with (Edmonton Oilers forward) Leon Draisaitl. I thought it was cool because he played in the NHL already. I also thought it was cool to play against (Minnesota Wild defender) Matthew Dumba and (Winnipeg Jets pick) Nicolas Petan in the playoffs because of how they were already drafted and have done so much already in the league.”
3. Do you model your game after someone in the NHL?
“It’s hard to compare myself to him, but (Chicago Blackhawks star) Patrick Kane. I think he’s one of the most skilled forwards in the NHL and he plays with so much speed and has a great shot. I like watching him play and would like to play like him.”
4. Do you have a favourite NHL team?
“Montreal. I grew up cheering for them and my dad is a big fan of them.”
5. What’s your favourite movie or TV show that you like to watch on road trips?
“I don’t really have one, but if I have to go with one I’ll go with Super Troopers. It’s a good comedy that we like to watch on the bus.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing thet Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen