Change – it can be a scary thing. Where some fear change, the San Diego Sabers embrace it.
The Sabers, 10-year members of the Western States Hockey League, have recently seen changes at both the general manager and head coach positions – and in their mission.
“We will build a very competitive program for years to come,” says Tomas Kapusta, the Sabers’ new general manager. “The Sabers will discover junior hockey players worldwide who haven’t yet been recognized for their talent and we will push them to the next level. We will do that in the world-class city of San Diego.
“And we will do all that while still providing them the opportunity to study and excel scholastically, as well as athletically,” added Kapusta.
Those are bold statements, but the determined Kapusta’s resume is packed with both athletic and educational achievements. Now an American citizen, the former Edmonton Oilers draft choice is also a former Olympian (with the Czech National Team at the Lillehammer Olympic Games in 1994). A two-time World Junior Championships silver medalist, he also led the Finnish Elite League in scoring as a professional.
Kapusta was the architect behind the growth of two Southern California amateur hockey powerhouses, the California Wildcats (now the Junior Reign) and the Junior Kings.
Kapusta brings this expertise to his new role as Sabers. He promises the Sabers will be driven by an emphasis on the advancement of his players to the next level.
“My philosophy is to push my players through the wide resources I have with NCAA and ACHA colleges, as well as the USHL and NAHL, to get them to the next level,” said Kapusta. “I want my team to constantly have fresh players because of the large push we make to advance our players in their careers.”
The Sabers have done well throughout their 10-year history in developing players for hockey’s highest levels.
You’ll find former Sabers on the rosters of NCAA teams from Divisions 1 through 3, and ACHA teams too. Sabers players have graced the rosters of professional leagues. These pro players are playing in North America (the ECHL), and in Sweden and Russia.
Most importantly, Sabers alumni have advanced to top junior leagues, like the NAHL, USHL and BCHL.
Kapusta and the Sabers will be placing their emphasis on both team success and player development.
Mason Kohn, a 2000-born forward, and San Diego native, played for the Sabers in the 2016-17 season before being drafted by the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks.“Playing for the Sabers was a fantastic opportunity to take my first step into junior hockey,” Kohn said. “As a younger player, playing in the WSHL helped me to develop and mature my game. The Sabers provided me an opportunity to adjust to the junior game, and to know what it takes to compete at this level.”
Sabers management has implemented a detailed practice and training structure that will see players training four times per week Monday through Thursday starting Sept. 5.
On-ice practices will be very intense and well-planned so once players step on the ice they will know exactly what to do.
Players will play a 48-game regular season with one to three games per week. The Sabers will participate in the prestigious WSHL Las Vegas Showcase in December, which draws over 100 scouts and coaches. Playoffs start the second week of March.
As any coach or player knows, success is built not just on the ice, but off-ice as well. In 2017-18, Sabers players will endure off-ice conditioning workouts prior to on-ice practice, and they will also train in the post-practice gym sessions.
The latter will be hosted by team fitness partner 24K Crossfit. Trainers will have a prepared, well thought-out training program designed specifically for our players and their rigorous schedule.
WSHL games are usually clustered around the weekend (predominantly Friday through Sunday). This allows motivated players to take advantage of San Diego’s excellent educational institutions, either high school or college.
Daily practices begin at 3:30 p.m., allowing for educational pursuits.
Additionally, the Sabers partnered with the top-notch Educational Advisor Tom McEvay. He brings 34 years experience as a public education teacher, counselor and administrator. He was also a principal for 25 years, and worked for 14 years with a BCHL junior team.
Prior to the season, McEvay will hold an Educational Seminar discussing a vast array of topics. Players and parents will be able to set up a private appointment with McEvay.
The WSHL allows as many as 14 imports for teams’ rosters. With that in place, the WSHL (sanctioned by the Amateur Athletic Union, or AAU) aims for a league with more high-skilled players. This forces the talent levels to greater heights.
“We will create an educational opportunity to junior players all over the world who aren’t yet ready for the USA’s or Canada’s top junior leagues,” said Kapusta. “San Diego ranks in the top 10 of America’s best big cities to live in. With beautiful beaches and parks and the year-round warm climate, who wouldn’t want to live here and play hockey here?”
None of this would be possible without the amazing support the Sabers have received from the San Diego community over the last 10 years.
Many fans recently attended the first round of tryouts in June. The welcoming efforts of the billet families do so much every year in accepting new players.
Whether you’re from out of state or are a homegrown California hockey player, there’s no better place to advance your junior hockey career than with the San Diego Sabers.
2017-18 SAN DIEGO SABERS TRYOUTS
August 12-13 Ice-Plex Escondido, CA
September 5-7 Ice-Plex Escondido CA
Ice-Plex Escondido Address: 555 N. Tulip St., Escondido, CA 92025
European Recruiting Camp:
July 22-23, Brumov, Czech Republic
Contact: Tomas Kapusta
Ph. 562-673-4235 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org