by Scott Taylor, republished from Game On Magazine
On the ice, Arborg Ice Dawgs captain Derric Gulay never did win a gold medal. He did make it to the finals twice in the old KJHL against the Selkirk Fishermen in 2014 and the Peguis Juniors in 2017, but he never got to take home the hardware. Still, Gulay himself has been a star. This year, in the inaugural season of the Capital Region Junior Hockey League, Gulay had 12 goals and 36 points in 25 games and was named to the All-Star team. It was his sixth season with the Ice Dawgs. Starting in 2013-14 as an AP member of the AA Teulon Midgets, he played four full seasons in the old Keystone Jr. B Hockey League and had 39 goals and 109 points in 116 games. This past season, the first of the new CRJHL, Gulay added another dozen goals and 24 assists to his already impressive Junior B career. In fact, it meant that he finished his time at the Jr. B level as a better than a point-a-game player – 145 points in 141 games.
Born and raised in Arborg, Gulay, 22, enjoyed every minute playing for his hometown team. He cherished being the team’s captain and was proud of the fact he was always one of the Ice Dawgs top scorers. “Derric is an exceptional young man,” said Ice Dawgs head coach Jim Werbowski. “Whether it’s in education or junior hockey, it’s obvious to me that whatever he chooses to do, he’ll be successful. “He’s driven. I’ve coached a lot of junior hockey players and I haven’t run into too many young men that are as driven as Derric. He has a consistent work ethic, is very aggressive and he possesses a lot of leadership skill. He’s one of those players who won’t go around traffic, he’ll go through it.”
But he also enjoyed playing in the KJHL and this year, the CRJHL, for another very important reason. It gave him time to finish his degree. And that’s where the gold medal comes in. “One of the best things about our league is that it allows its players to work or go to school and concentrate on their futures,” he said. “I love hockey and it bothered me whenever I would have to miss a practice or a game because I had an exam. It’s not good when your captain can’t show up. But that was part of playing Jr. B. My coaches understood that school came first and that education was extremely important to me.” Gulay’s marks at Red River College prove that. Enrolled in one of the few four-year degree-granting programs at RRC, the Bachelor of Technology in Construction Management, Gulay put his nose to the grindstone and completed his degree in June with a 4.14 GPA – a 92 per cent average. With that, back in May, he was awarded the inaugural CRJHL Scholarship. Then, later in the month he received a phone call. “I was just getting on the plane to go on a graduation trip to Croatia,” he explained. “We kind of studied up and chose Croatia because we wanted to go to Europe, but we also wanted a place that was economical to visit and it turned out to be a great trip. “But when we were boarding the plane, I got a call from an administrator at the college to say that I’d won the gold medal for the highest GPA in my program over four years. I’m proud of that. I worked very hard. “It’s funny, but in high school, I just found myself working hard enough to get by. I did pretty well and got 80s, but it wasn’t the same as college. I was just a lot more focused. It was a lot of work and it hurt missing the occasional practice and game, but it was worth it.”
Interestingly, according to his dad Ivan who was an executive with the Ice Dawgs and a driving force behind Arborg’s successful hosting of the Keystone Cup, this wasn’t the first time Derric had applied for the Jr. B scholarship. “After applying for the scholarship for the last four years, Derric was very happy after hearing he had received the first CRJHL scholarship award,” said Ivan. “Playing in his sixth year – five in the KJHL) and his last in the CRJHL -- he loved the sport of hockey and was always committed. But being involved in hockey didn’t stop him from pursuing his four-year course at Red River. Derric succeeded with this course and we are very proud of him.” Because of his dedication to his program, Derric will graduate into a job with North American Construction. He’s already a coordinator on North American’s $180 million South End Water Pollution Control Centre. It’s quite likely that he’ll eventually end up at North American’s head office in Guelph, Ont. “I’m very lucky,” he said, “to get a job exiting school.”
Without question, family has always been of the utmost importance to Derric. His mom, Brenda and his dad, Ivan, along with older brother, Ryan a former Ice Dawgs star himself, and his older sister Cara, were all instrumental in his success both on and off the ice. “School was always really important to me and my parents encouraged it,” he said. “My brother and sister both went to university and for me to get my degree was always a priority for me. “Winning the gold medal just proved to me how hard I’d worked. But I never could have done it without my family, friends and teammates.”