Colorado Rubber

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Lafayette native, Colorado youth hockey alum Simpson gets best of both worlds with NCAA D-I Lindenwood commitment


For Gabriel Simpson, committing to play NCAA Division I hockey for Lindenwood checked all boxes he was looking for.

Lindenwood, located just outside St. Louis, just finished its second season at the NCAA D-I level after finding major success at the ACHA level.

“My commitment to Lindenwood started at the 2023 Rocky Mountain District Player Development Camp where I was coached by former Lindenwood assistant coach Jason Power,” said Simpson. “He told me about Lindenwood, and this was before they were even Division I. He was telling me about how much the school and program had grown in the previous years and about when they were going to switch to D-I. When I heard that they were going to play D-I hockey, I started paying more attention to them until the conversations escalated to where I made some visits, met the team, and talked with former head coach Rick Zombo.

“After that, I committed.”

Simpson believes the school offers the best of both worlds.

“For the school part, I believe they have a very hands-on experience at Lindenwood, and I appreciate having teachers that know who I am,” said Simpson. “I’m not a big lecture person, and I’m not sure if anyone really is, but if there is a way I can have a good relationship with all of my teachers, that is what I prefer. For the hockey side of things, they have a young program and for me, it’s a huge opportunity to lead the team into a future of possible tournament, Frozen Four appearances and national championships.

“Academics has always been a very important part of the puzzle for me and my family. For my family, we always prepare for the worst, and it may be harsh, but we always ask the question, ’What if you get hurt tomorrow?’ This question has made me realize that hockey isn’t forever and that I need to take advantage of any opportunities I get. As for a major, I am leaning towards Kinesiology as physical therapy and sports medicine really appeal to me.”

Growing up, the Lafeyette native said hockey always piqued his interest.

“As a kid, I was always drawn to hockey,” Simpson said. “Since I could walk, I’ve had a stick in my hand. Hockey has always been a part of my life, I’m not sure what has driven me to love it so much, but boy am I happy it happened. As I was born in Colorado, I started skating at the old Superior rink and the Promenade and played my first Mite hockey with Boulder Hockey Club. Honestly, I don’t know what started my drive to play hockey, but I am so happy it did because it has changed my life for the better. The Avs played a small role in the love for hockey since they were the first hockey team I watched.”

In addition to Boulder, Simpson also played for the DU Jr. Pioneers, Evolution Elite Hockey Academy, Rocky Mountain RoughRiders and Colorado Thunderbirds before leaving Colorado to go to Mount St. Charles Academy in Rhode Island.

For the 2023-24 season, Simpson played for the Team Illinois 16U AAA team.

“Some of the coaches that have had the most impact on me would have to be Sergei Bautin, Dave Fromm and Justin Waldron,” explained Simpson. “These three coaches have all sadly passed away, but I still remember them as the coaches who helped make me the player that I am. Also, I would like to thank Gino Parrish, Allen Dionne and David Clarkson for the hard work they have put me through to be who I am. And last but not least, my family advisor and summer coach, former Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda, who has taught me so much in the last two years just about how to be a good, consistent hockey player.”

Moving forward, before he gets to Lindenwood, Simpson has ideas on where he wants to play junior hockey next season.

“For a short-term goal, in the coming weeks, there is the USHL draft. I hope to get drafted, go to main camp for that team, and make the team,” Simpson said. “However, if that doesn’t go as planned, then I would like to go play in the BCHL. I’ve never really looked into how you get on a BC team, but I would like to go there if the USHL doesn’t work out. Long-term goal is to go and play at Lindenwood and have a successful career there so that I can hopefully move onto the next level.

“In life, I only really have one goal, and that is to be a good, strong-hearted person wherever I go and to leave a positive impact on the people I meet.”

Photo/Lauren Carney

— Matt Mackinder

(April 7, 2024)

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