The Thunder Cats sign 2001-born defenseman Daniel Graber ahead of the final roster deadline. January 10th was the KIJHL trade deadline; however, free agents were still available to sign until February 10th at 5:00 PM. Graber had previously been with the Kimberely Dynamiters where he was moved from earlier in this year; however, due to academic commitments, the veteran defenseman was unable to join his new team, prepared to move on from junior hockey.
After getting settled in school, it became clear that he was not ready to hang them up. Staying in Cranbrook, continuing training on and off the ice in case the right situation ever presented itself, a mere minutes before the deadline, the right fit came through.
Creston, the closest KIJHL team to his school other than Kimberely, was the perfect fit. The Thunder Cats went into the final part of the season confident with their defensive depth, with eight effective and reliable defensemen, but when it came apparent that Graber would be available, the ‘Cats had to pounce.
Graber expressed his appreciation for his opportunity stating “(I am) super excited to join the team and looking forward to making a long playoff run with a great group of guys”.
Despite being an impact player, the Thunder Cats expressed that they will take their time with Graber, and integrate him into the systems and culture as he gains confidence.
GM and Head Coach Bill Rotheisler stated, “KIJHL playoffs are a game-after-game grind. Having a generous amount of defensive depth and players willing to buy into their roles is imperative to having late success in the playoffs”. Rotheisler continued, “(Graber) stayed in shape, in the gym, and on the ice. Because of that, we are confident in our process of getting his game back up to a competitive pace. We were impressed by his commitment and character. His on-ice speaks for himself: Defends well and is poised with the puck and cares about his opportunity”.