Dillon Dubé is proud of his hometown of Golden B.C. and has carried his community with him all the way to the big times.
Playing for the Calgary Flames in the NHL, the closest you can get to a hometown team for Golden, Dubé still gives credit to the community that raised him for getting his hockey career started.
“I’m so proud to be from there, the town is so supportive and amazing,” said Dubé.
“My parents, my whole family, my brother included, are thankful for the opportunities that we were given to be successful.”
Dubé says that he learned to skate at the Golden & District Arena, affectionately called the Plywood Palace around town, with his grandma as his first coach.
“She was really big in Golden for teaching kids how to skate and working with everyone,” he said.
Dubé first got involved with hockey after his parents pushed him and his brother to participate in various sports around town, with Dubé saying he fell in love with the sport right away.
On top of that, it was the only sport where the two brothers were able to play together, with Dubé playing up an age group to keep the pair together.
It’s those kinds of experiences that he says have allowed him to find success in his career.
“I give a lot of credit to Golden and the opportunity I was given to be on the ice all the time, all those sorts of things you’re able to do in a smaller town,” said Dubé.
Even with his passion for the game, it was the friendships he made while with Golden Minor Hockey that defined the early years of his hockey career - playing hockey was just a bonus.
In fact, Dubé says that he remains close with the people that he met through Golden Minor Hockey and has maintained those relationships over the years.
He says that he tries to come back to Golden when he can, to see old teammates and friends in the summer, even once coming back to take in a Jr. B Golden Rockets game during an off-week with the Flames back in 2019.
“When I come back, to this day it still feels like home.”
Beyond representing Golden and Calgary in the NHL, Dubé has also represented Canada internationally, playing at the World Juniors two years in a row, capturing silver in 2017 and captaining the team to gold in 2018.
His accomplishments were commemorated with a plaque from Hockey Canada, which now hangs in the lobby of the Plywood Palace, honouring Dubé and Golden’s contributions to his development.
“It’s a bit surreal to see it, it still honestly hasn’t really sunk in,” said Dubé.
“I think it honestly means more to me than winning and having the medal.”
Dubé says that the plaque shows today’s young hockey players in Golden that it’s possible to be from a small town and still achieve something big.
He says that when he was younger, he drew inspiration from Curtis Mackenzie, another Golden-born NHL player who was drafted to the Dallas Stars in 2009 and is currently captain of their American Hockey League affiliate Texas Stars.
He hopes that his success can help inspire kids in Golden today the way Mackenzie did for him.
“He was always gone and playing hockey, and I always wanted to follow in his footsteps, so I hope that someone can follow in my footsteps,” said Dubé.
“Hopefully we can get more players from Golden into the NHL.”
Right now, Dubé and the Flames sit in first in the Pacific Divison, with Dubé suiting up in each one of the Flames’ 23 games this season, scoring two goals and seven assists.
This past summer, Dubé earned a three-year contract extension, committing him to the team he grew up cheering for.
While some may think that growing up in a small town may provide a disadvantage, Dubé says the opposite: he believes that small towns foster all sorts of developmental perks that helped shape him into the player he is today, and many others who also grew up outside of city centres.
“I’m so thankful that I grew up in Golden.”