WHL Next Generation is a 23-part series highlighting a handful of the future stars of the Western Hockey League. From first-round bantam draft picks to later-blooming selections, get to know the names of players set to establish themselves as the newest crop of exciting talent to grace the WHL. From August 1 through August 31, get the inside scoop on the incoming rookie class of 2018-19.
Team: Regina Pats
The Regina Pats hosted the 2018 MasterCard Memorial Cup. As most host teams do, they traded assets in hopes for improving their immediate roster to compete with the top teams. One player they refused to trade is Cole Dubinsky.
Dubinsky will be looking to start the next wave of talent after playing with many guys signed to NHL Contracts, such as Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks), Libor Hajek (New York Rangers), and Cameron Hebig (Edmonton Oilers) to name a few. What he learned from playing with these stars was extremely valuable.
“They were a huge asset to the club and to me,” stated Dubinsky. “It was cool to see how they came into a new place and how it didn’t change their game or their leadership. In hockey you can be traded or sign with a team across the country so seeing how calm they were about it really changed my perspective if I were to be traded or if I sign with a team from the East Coast.”
Expectations were high playing in Regina last season but being the host of the MasterCard Memorial Cup also gave the rink an incredible atmosphere.
“The atmosphere in that building was unbelievable,” explained Dubinsky. “Every game meant so much and even in the locker room the atmosphere was cool with how the coaches and players were getting ready. Even the games that had no effect on the standings meant something because they would build momentum. It was hard to see them lose out in playoffs, but I think it almost helped them heading into the Memorial Cup as they got some rest and could reset and work on perfecting their game. They came up a little short unfortunately but the whole season was really cool to be a part of.”
Dubinsky is hoping to join the Pats full-time next season, after another impressive showing in his Midget season where he posted 30 points (7G-23A) in 34 games.
“I think [last season] went really well,” said Dubinsky. “We had some ups and downs as a team, I learned a lot as a player and the coaching staff were excellent. Ian Gallagher (father of Montreal Canadian Brendan Gallagher) was a great fitness and strength coach and really helped me develop as a player.”
Dubinsky received a late Christmas present when the Pats asked him to join the lineup. He suited up for his first WHL action on December 28th.
“It was the best time of my life,” said the Pats prospect. “I had so much fun and there is so much leadership [on the Pats], they helped me through everything I was struggling with and I had a bit of success which boosted my confidence. Even the fans were super welcoming, and the coaching staff helped me a lot and gave me every opportunity to succeed. I can’t thank them enough and can’t wait to be there for the whole season.”
Being a smaller player, Dubinsky has had to adapt his game to use his strengths. He has two names in mind for who he styles his game after.
“I would say I model my game after guys like Brad Marchand or Daymond Langkow. They’re not the biggest guys but they play tough and are good with the puck. They’re not scared into any end of the ice, they are good on both sides of the puck and aren’t afraid to get into the dirty areas.”
Brad Marchand and Daymond Langkow were great playmakers and see the ice well, which is exactly how Dubinsky plays. Putting up 23 assists in 34 games last season, he added two assists in five games with the Pats.
“I was up on the forecheck and got the puck,” explained Dubinsky on his first WHL point. “I chipped it out in front and Bryan Lockner put it in. It was a big rush of excitement and I celebrated pretty hard. It was a really cool moment.”
With the Pats competing in the MasterCard Memorial Cup, and the loss of several key players, there will openings on their roster, and the Androssan product has been working hard in anticipation of filling one.
“I have been training four times and week and skating two to three times a week. Working on conditioning and getting into shape for training camp. I’ve also been preparing mentally for the move to Regina and the long WHL schedule.”
While his time in Androssan may be coming to an end, the 2002-born forward has been making the most of his summer.
“I have been hanging out at the lake and visiting family as much as possible. I know we will be coming to Edmonton and Red Deer for road trips, but it won’t be the same as those are business trips and hockey will come first.”
Cole Dubinsky and the Regina Pats will be looking to remain competitive after a chain of offseason player losses. They will kickoff their pre-season in a playoff rematch when they host the Swift Current Broncos on Friday August 31st at 7:00 p.m. CDT at the Brandt Centre, Regina, Sask.
What is your Food?
If you could have any super power what would you chose?
The ability to fly
What is a hobby of yours that most people don’t know about?
I like to hunt
Who was your favorite hockey player to watch growing up?
Mark Messier/Alex Ovechkin
What trend/fad do you hope comes back?
Definitely the mullet