20-year-old right wing Blake Gal will play his 314th game with the Spokane Chiefs on Friday night. Gal has recently helped bolster the Chiefs' defense, hit hard by injures. Read story
Gal started figure skating at age 4 and playing hockey at 5. His dad was his coach for a couple of years in his younger days.
Gal grew up as a big Lethbridge Hurricanes fan and dreamed of playing for the hometown team. Most of his family is from Lethbridge except for two aunts in Calgary. He got the next-best wish during the rare times the Chiefs play at Lethbridge. Those games draw about 40 members of Gal's family.
Gal's family attempts to see games in Spokane about every month. They usually bring along grandparents, and aunt and an uncle. Gal's father and his mother Debbie own a Little Caesar's Pizza in Lethbridge.
Gal attended Ferris High for two years and said he enjoyed meeting people away from the hockey world. He said his biggest surprise about Americans is how they think he has an accent while he can't detect any accent from them.
Gal said he and his teammates can knock around and see movies from time to time, but hockey is never far from their minds.
He hasn't thought seriously about a future beyond hockey, but he has earned five years of schooling because of his five years in the WHL. The University of Lethbridge is highly regarded, but Gal would like to “do stuff on my own and maybe have a new experience.”
“I'm just hoping I can make a career out of (hockey), because it’s what I love to do,” he said. “If not, I guess I’ll have to reevaluate that.”
Gal said he thinks the Chiefs' up-and-down play since the Christmas break can be blamed on their going away from the team concept and losing their structure.
“When we were on a roll there with the Eastern swing (Nov. 30-Dec. 8), we were competing really hard and we had a great work ethic and I feel like we’ve lost that a little bit,” he said.
“We’re mainly focusing on getting home ice now, but that will take a lot of hard work from us. We just have to bear down on these (upcoming) games, because they’re huge games for us, not only to get up in position (in the standings), but to prove that we can do it.”