Dante Fabbro has some unfinished business in the Okanagan Valley.
Last season, Fabbro and the BCHL’s Penticton Vees took home the league championship, but fizzled out in the RBC Cup, depriving them of a second national title in four years.
Nearing the midway mark of the 2015-16 BCHL campaign, Fabbro leads all defensemen in points with seven goals and 30 assists in 22 games as he looks to cap off his NHL Draft year with hopefully two more pieces of hardware.
“We fell short last year,” Fabbro lamented. “We have a pretty good group of guys here this year. It’s not hard to make plays when everybody is thinking the same and everybody is playing with confidence with our winning streak going on.”
Fabbro’s hot start is not without the backing of arguably the hottest roster in junior hockey right now. Towed by league scoring leader Tyson Jost, the Vees outstanding record of 26-2-0 indicates another title and a berth to the RBC Cup is theirs for the taking.
The 17-year-old knows there’s something special brewing in Penticton and he’s thrilled to be a part of it.
“It’s definitely a special place to be at this time and the crowd is behind us,” he said. “Hopefully we can keep this thing going.”
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound blueliner is one of the more decorated players in the BCHL this season.
During the summer, Fabbro, along with Jost, struck gold with Team Canada at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic.
As a rookie last season, the Coquitlam, BC product tallied 33 points in 44 games before moving on to the playoffs, in which he was the Vees’ highest-scoring defenceman. At the 2015 RBC Cup, he was named the tournament’s Top Defenseman at just 16-years-old.
Fabbro is touted as an explosive skater with a smooth stride and strong edge work who positions himself well on both offense and defense. His elite hockey sense allows him to make quick, smart plays that help transition the puck in any situation.
Jost explained that it’s easy to see why his teammate is one of the more sought after defensemen entering the 2016 NHL Draft.
“He has a rocket of a shot,” Jost said. “He’s always making the right plays. He’s really smart. It’s fun to watch him. He’s such a smooth skater and he’s always so poised with the puck. It’s fun to watch.”
Like Jost, Fabbro’s road to the NHL Draft won’t go through major junior. After wrapping things up in the BCHL, he’ll head to Boston University after committing to the program in October.
He’s following the lead of his grandfather, Gerry Fabbro, who played three seasons for Michigan Tech in the NCAA from 1958-1961.
Fabbro said his grandfather played a major role in his decision to take the NCAA route, which will allow him the chance to develop both his game while getting an education in the process.
“He’s been supporting me through my whole life,” he explained. “When he was younger, he had gone through the experience as well. To talk to a guy who has been through it makes it so much easier.”
The Boston University Terriers are one of the most storied teams in NCAA Division 1 hockey history.
After a visit to the BU campus, Fabbro knew he wanted to be a Terrier.
“The biggest thing was just the coaching and the players that were there and the players that were coming in,” Fabbro said. “I’ve got a mixture of the city life and being at a school, too. The biggest deciding factor for me was coaching and players, and just the surroundings of the school. I talked to my family about it and it seemed like the right fit for me.”
As far as the upcoming NHL Draft is concerned, Fabbro is strictly focused on two things; continuing to make strides in his development and bringing the RBC Cup back to Penticton.
“The biggest thing is worrying about myself and just being a good person on and off the ice and trying to work on my skills and improving as a player.”