When the final buzzer went on the Prince George Cougars season Saturday night, it also marked the end of the junior hockey careers for Daniel Gibb, Ryan Hanes and Dallas Ehrhardt.
"You take a trip down memory lane when you're out there," said Gibb. "It was pretty emotional near the end but to end the season with these guys is a cool feeling."
Gibb spent all four seasons of his Western Hockey League career developing into a solid stay-at-home defenceman for his hometown team. The Cougars' captain played in 266 career games, notching eight goals and 33 points. In his time with the Cougars Gibb played in four playoff games (2011).
The Cougars may have had a losing 21-43-2-6 record this past season, but Gibb's offensive numbers were the best of his career as he produced five goals and 15 points. Gibb had his first two-goal game on March 12 in Spokane in a 6-4 loss to the Chiefs.
"A blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while," said Gibb. "To get two goals is a cool feeling but, if we would've got the win, it would've been that much better."
Cougars forward Troy Bourke, who played three seasons with Gibb, said the team-first attitude he had was always apparent.
"He's one of the best captains I've ever had. I look up to him and, hopefully will take on his role next year," said Bourke. "What he does on the ice is awesome and he's a pretty terrific guy off the ice. He cares about the team. He's always positive on the bench and he knows what his role is and knows what it takes to win. If we had a lot more guys like him, I think we'd be a winning team."
Hanes joined the Cougars in November after Brock Hirsche was forced into an early retirement due to repeated shoulder injuries. The 21-year-old spent four seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, his hometown team, before being the odd-man out when it came to the enforced CHL rule that limits a team to three 20-year-old players.
"It was unbelievable to play in your hometown but definitely the opportunity to come to a different town, I think it kind of made me grow up a little more just because you live away from home," said Hanes. "It's definitely weird being on the other side but the Blazers didn't want me and I got a second chance from the Cougars so I'm thankful for it.
"I'm still a Cougar and a Blazer in my heart," said Hanes.
In 43 games for the Cougars, Hanes had seven goals and 11 points. In his WHL career Hanes suited up in 224 games collecting 23 goals and 51 points, while playing in 15 playoff games (2010, 2012) where he had two goals and four points.
"He's one of those goofy guys that keeps the energy following off the ice and on the ice," said Bourke.
The final graduating Cougar was Calgary-native Ehrhardt who ended his career in the stands after suffering a left-knee sprain during a game in Vancouver a week earlier.
"He's an intimidating guy on the ice," said Bourke. "He's one of those guys, kind of like Gibber, that leads by example."
Ehrhardt became a Cougar when the team acquired him in a trade with the Moose Jaw Warriors during last year's bantam draft. The 20-year-old began his major junior career with the Brandon Wheat Kings before being traded to the Warriors after 12 games. In 62 games for the Cougars, Ehrhardt had six goals and 23 points, while his overall totals were 11 goals and 69 points in 209 games.
Gibb, Hanes and Ehrhardt were all undecided about where their futures laid. Gibb and Hanes both expressed a desire to pursue an education while continuing their hockey careers in the CIS.