Erik Garber had a game cancelled this season because blizzard conditions made travel too dangerous.
It’s safe to say that won’t be happening again anytime soon.
The Cochrane Generals all-star goaltender is heading to warmer climes to suit up for the Arizona State University Sun Devils.
The American Collegiate Hockey Association Div. I squad is currently building a new rink on campus, but Garber says he’s ready to play on any ice surface he can find.
“During my time there, we should be able to get a rink on campus, which would be awesome,” Garber says.
“I couldn’t be more excited. It’s a great school and it’s going to be great hockey. It’s the perfect, ideal situation for me.”
This is the second straight off-season the HJHL’s Generals have placed a player with an American school after forward Braden Bain joined Finlandia University in Hancock, Mich., last summer.
“We’ve had other guys, too,” Garber says. “After my first year, we had to players go play for SAIT.
“It’s great for the program because it shows if you work hard, it doesn’t mean that Junior B hockey has to be the end of the road for you.
“You can play college hockey if you really work for it and it shows a lot about how good of a program we have in Cochrane.”
Garber, from Kirkland, Wash., was forced to leave home as a teenager in order to chase his hockey dreams.
“In Seattle, we don’t really have much for midget-AAA, or junior A or junior B, so a lot of guys have to move away from home if they want to keep playing hockey,” Garber says. “My midget coach knew a coach in Banff, so I went there for a year.”
With the Bears electing not to return to the HJHL following the season, Garber found himself searching for a new hockey home.
The 5-foot-8, 160-pounder hit his stride after joining the Generals, going 44-21-8 over three seasons (plus one game in 2020-21). He posted a sub-3.00 goals-against average in two of this seasons and his save percentage never dipped below .902.
The 21-year-old puckstopper will officially graduate from the HJHL this off-season.
So he began looking for a new team and contacted a few buddies who play for the Sun Devils.
“I have a couple of friends that play for the team and they put me in touch with the coach,” Garber says. “I reached out to the coaches and let them know I was interested in coming down there.”
Generals GM/head coach Kurtis Jones helped his goaltender put a highlight reel together to send to the ASU coaching staff.
A week after watching the film and then speaking with Jones, ASU offered Garber a scholarship.
Garber starts school on Aug. 22, but will head down a couple of weeks early.
He’d love to play a little hockey before that happens.
Although the HJHL season has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams could potentially play exhibition games if the Alberta government lifts restrictions in the future.
“I know Kurtis is really pushing for it,” Garber says. “We have 20 guys or so who are looking to keep playing.
“If the government allows it, we’ll start practising as soon as possible. I really hope we’re able to play so I can get prepared to head down to Arizona in August.