Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - Submitted by Peter Lambert
A champion ice hockey team needs a player who can produce under pressure, something that 2015 Northstars defenceman Jan Safar was well known for.
In consecutive AIHL finals series, a jail-broken Safar scored heartbreakers for his teams to get them wins in do-or-die finals.
A player recommended by Safar to the Northstars and with the same known credentials as a clinch player is 26 year old Dominik Gabaj.
Gabaj comes to Australia from Jan’s team in France’s Division 1 league, where he has just finished runners up with the Bison to the Briançon Red Devils.
When the Bison needed a clinch goal, Gabaj came through, scoring with just under two minutes in the deciding final to give his team a chance to win.
Unfortunately for Gabaj and Safar, a second goal to level scores wasn’t forthcoming.
Gabaj finished his season equal 13th in points – 29 from 26 games, 13 goals and 16 assists – and with an impressive 5 game-winning goals for the Bison.
Gabaj left his native Slovakia to play hockey and get an education in USA. There, he played in Idaho and enrolled at Nazareth College, New York, and played NCAA Division III hockey for the Golden Flyers.
For the past two seasons, Gabaj has been a top scorer in France’s Division 1 league, where he met and shared a room with Safar.
“Jan and I talked a lot about Australia and I wanted to try the experience,” Gabaj said.
“Jan said that the Northstars team is going to be the best experience for me. He only had great things to say about the organisation, the city and of his experience in Newcastle.
“I’m very excited to come to Newcastle and play for the Northstars.”
Newcastle Rescue Northstars general manager Garry Doré believes that Gabaj will fit perfectly into the 2019 side.
“From Jan’s recommendation we feel that Dominik will be a really good fit – he’s a serious hockey player.”
Gabaj is in Australia already and practiced on Tuesday with his new teammates, including Francis Drolet just two weeks after they played against each other in the Final in France.
Gabaj is available and expected to play in the Northstars’ opening game on Saturday, April 27 versus the Sydney Bears, and on the Sunday night versus the Melbourne Ice.
Both games will be played at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium.
For tickets, visit HISS in Warners Bay or phone (02) 4954 4499.