|(above) Gabe Levin announced last week that he was coming to DU next season|
Fresh off an appearance at the 2012 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament one week ago, forward Gabe Levin reflected on his path to making a commitment to the University of Denver.
“I am so excited for the opportunity to go to school and play hockey at DU. So much of the credit of this commitment goes to the staff in Fairbanks including Rob Proffitt, Trevor Stewart, Geoff Beauparlant and last year’s coach Josh Hauge. It means the world to me to have gone from the PHL, to the NAHL to the University of Denver in just three seasons.”
"Justin have worked very hard this season and is a big part of our success," said Fairbanks Ice Dogs [NAHL] head coach Trevor Stewart.
Levin, 20, is a true developmental ladder success story. Prior to playing in the NAHL, the Marina del Ray, California native played for the California Titans of the North American Prospects Hockey League (PHL) during the 2009-10 season. During that year, he ranked second in league scoring with 36 points 19 games and then followed that up by leading the Titans in points during the 2010 PHL Championship series as California won the PHL 18U Championship.
“I don’t think I would have had the opportunities to move onto the next level in the NAHL in Fairbanks if it weren’t for playing in the PHL and my coach in California, Scott Yorkinson,” said Levin. “It is a great organization and a great league to develop in. Every event had scouts that would follow your progress as the season went along and I believe that was instrumental in me signing a tender and then playing the next season in Fairbanks.”
Once Levin (5’8, 165 lbs.) arrived in Fairbanks to play in the NAHL, his career took off because he was more than prepared. In his rookie campaign in 2010-11, Levin registered 58 points in 55 games and led the Ice Dogs to their first ever Robertson Cup National Championship. In the process, he was named to the NAHL All-Rookie 2nd team. This season has been even better for Levin, who finds himself leading the league in scoring with 79 points in 47 games so far this season.
“I am convinced that Fairbanks was the perfect place to go for me. I think the organization as a whole is the best I have ever been around. They treat the players like gold and focus on your development and advancement as a player,” said Levin. “It also has the best and most passionate fan base in the league. Almost every game is sold out and it really gives the players a lot of motivation to have success at home.”
Levin said that his participation in the recent NAHL Top Prospects Tournament was one of the best experiences he has had during his time in the NAHL. “It is such a great event because you feel proud to be recognized as a player, and then when you get there you see all the scouts and realize that it is a pretty big deal. There is definitely a sense of pride and determination among the teams because you want to show everyone what you can do.”
Levin will continue his hockey career with the University of Denver, which is one of the most storied NCAA Division I hockey programs in the Nation. The Pioneers rank second in all-time NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championships with seven. Since the creation of the WCHA in 1959, the Pioneers have won nine WCHA Regular Season Championships and 14 WCHA Playoff Championships.
“It was my top choice because it’s the University of Denver … the name and tradition says it all,” said Levin.