Since he left the Beaufort Delta to pursue his dreams, Hunter Gruben has been fairly tight-lipped about what they are.
However, the Tuktoyaktuk-born athlete’s secret is out now — he’s been playing junior hockey at the ‘A’ level for three years and has just signed with a new team, the Utah Altitude, in the Western States Hockey League.
“I wasn’t expecting this to come out,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for eight to 10 years and this was the first time I really told people back home what I do and they went above and beyond in sharing that.
On top of the three years in the ‘A’ leagues, he’s been playing at the junior level for a total of five years. This isn’t even his first time starting with a new team — his last team, the Pueblo Bulls, made their debut two years ago.
As one of the senior players on the Altitude, Gruben said he was looking forward to developing as a leader on both the ice and in the locker room.
“This year will be a lot of role modelling, especially with the younger guys,” he said. “Also, learning how to take care of your body.”
Part of that for the 5’10, 170-pound forward is a change to his style of play this year. He missed a bit of last year after complications of injuries.
He has high hopes for this season, not just for his team’s success but also to show potential scouts and recruiters what he can do on the ice. Gruben noted he had been approached by several colleges and was hoping to land himself a hockey scholarship to pursue higher education.
As to what he plans to take, Gruben said he’s still weighing out his options, though he’s leaning towards medicine.
Utah Altitude managing partner David Imonti said the team was drawn to Gruben from several of his peers they recruited for the new team.
“He came highly recommended,” he said. “We looked into him and he seemed like a really good fit for everyone involved.
“His creativity is huge for the level that we’re playing at. Having that experience at the junior level is an asset.”
He said the Altitude saw great potential in Gruben to grow in their program and added the team was committed to helping him ascend to the college leagues.
Born in Tuktoyaktuk in 2000, Gruben moved to Victoria, B.C. at age 10 to pursue educational opportunities there. He frequently returns to his hometown to visit over the summer.
Gruben expressed his thanks to his mother family and friends and thanked his daduck, Eddie Gruben and the E. Gruben Transport, for all his support over the years.
“He basically helped me become who I am now,” he said. “His hard work and determination has helped me out with my hockey and what I want to do.”