In the 2008-09 season, Kabore Dunn was the youngest stick boy in the B.C. Hockey League.
Seven years later, he was the youngest player in the Cowichan Valley Capitals training camp.
Dunn, who came up through Cowichan Valley minor hockey and played defence for Shawnigan Lake School’s bantam prep team last weekend, found himself in the mix as the Caps prepared for the upcoming BCHL campaign, even though he isn’t quite old enough to play junior hockey.
“It felt kind of like a dream come true, almost,” Dunn said.
Although he won’t turn 15 until November, Dunn — who checks in at 5-foot-11 and 154 pounds, with lots of time left to grow — found himself skating alongside players as old as 20. He admitted that, initially at least, it was a little intimidating.
“At first it was, but I think I adapted to it well,” he said.
Dunn has played some high-level hockey, but the Caps camp was still an eye-opener.
“It was a bit faster [than camps he’d been to before],” he said. “Everyone was a bit more skilled and older.”
Dunn was joined in the Capitals camp by his Shawnigan teammate Cody Shepheard, who calls Qualicum Beach home. Both players were also picked by the Kootenay Ice in the Western Hockey League’s bantam draft in the spring, Dunn 70th overall in the fourth round and Shepheard 155th overall in the eighth round. Cowichan head coach Bob Beatty was impressed with what both players brought.
“They both did extremely well,” Beatty said. “Kabore had an excellent showing. I think he’s made some good strides since we saw him in the spring. He’s a big, mobile defenceman. He certainly has a good future. Cody is another one who has good size and a good skill set. He had a good showing as well.”
Although neither player will be age-eligible to play junior until next year, there were good reasons to bring them to camp, Beatty explained.
“Especially for the players that have a local connection, we want to introduce them to our program and our staff, and make some inroads before somebody else gets their hooks into them,” he said.
It might not happen this year, but there’s no reason to doubt either player’s ability to reach the next level.
“They could both play in junior,” Beatty said. “No question.”
Dunn felt that he was almost prepared to make the jump.
“I think I could be ready to play there pretty soon,” he said.
This week, Dunn and Shepheard headed to Cranbrook for the Kootenay Ice camp, where they continued to make positive impressions.
“Obviously as a 15-year-old, it’s a pretty big adjustment and a new environment,” Ice head coach Luke Pierce said. “Kabore did a tremendous job of improving as the camp went on, and finished it off with a great performance in the intrasquad game [Wednesday night]. He moves well for a big player, and he’s not afraid to take chances with the puck.
Like Beatty, Pierce can picture Dunn playing junior hockey.
“If he stays on the right trajectory, he can be a player,” he said. “Time will tell, but certainly the foundation is there.”
For his part, Dunn is keeping his options open, and hasn’t decided if he wants to take the junior A and U.S. college route or play major junior hockey.
“I know I want to play professional hockey,” he said. “Now isn’t the right time to lock myself into one path. Things could change.”
His goals for this coming season at Shawnigan are clear.
“I just want to get better,” he said. “Not just as a hockey player but as a person.”