Merritt BC – Team social media coordinator Katie Campbell caught up with former Centennials forward Nicholas Kang in a “Where Are They Now” interview:
You started your BCHL career with the Merritt Centennials back in the 2005-06 season, what was it like playing in the BCHL? – After my final Major Midget season in Kamloops in 2004-2005, I actually hung up the skates – I was set to start university and start a new chapter of my life. It wasn’t until early fall 2005 when I got a call from the head coach at the time asking if I wanted to come to training camp. Before I knew it, I was wearing the white, black and red in front of the best fans in the league. Playing in the BCHL was major step towards a goal I thought I’d never reach – playing college hockey.
Playing 149 regular season games in the BCHL and 14 post-season games, what was your favourite thing about playing the regular season and your favourite thing about playing in the post-season? – I had no idea I played that many games! You’d think I’d be able to tally a few more points… Anyways I don’t think I could find a single favourite thing about the regular season or the post-season. When I think back to all those games, the most memorable are those division rivalry games against Trail, Vernon or Penticton. The adrenaline built up before and throughout those games is something you don’t get at a desk job.
Following your time with the Centennials, you played with St. Olaf College of the MIAC, what was it like going from the BCHL to College hockey? (What was the biggest difference going from the BCHL over to the MIAC?) – It was a real transition. The biggest difference moving from the BCHL to NCAA Division III is that you don’t get the same spectrum of skill-sets and skill-levels. In the BCHL you get the Casey Pierre-Zabotels and Brandon Wongs right down to the 5-foot-8, 160-pound ankle biters like myself. By the time you shift out of the BCHL, everyone begins to fall into a new league suited towards their specific skill-sets and skill-levels, whether it be Division I or III schools, the WHL or pro. Imagine 26 guys like myself playing against each other. Some would enjoy it, but most wouldn’t find a lot of beauty in that chaos.
If you had to pick your favourite memory from your time with the Centennials, what would it be? – My last game with the team. I made the very personal decision to leave halfway through my final season. It wasn’t easy to do or to tell my teammates. However, the respect, understanding and comradery I received from my teammates that night is a moment I will never forget.
What is one thing that you miss from playing with the Centennials organization or from the City of Merritt? – The people. I think fondly of the community, including but not limited to folks like Brian Barrett, Dave MacCauley, and the many billet families, including my own – Betty and Harry Doberstein. Folks like these are a reason I kept on coming back even after my time with the Centennials to give back in whatever ways I could.
You spent your entire BCHL career with the Centennials organization, what was that like? – I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Of course there were difficult times on and off the ice – your friends get traded, injuries happen, you go through a losing-streak or pointless-streak mid-season – but at the end of the day, I am glad to have played each and every one of my BCHL games for the Centennials.
If you had to give a piece of advice to a junior hockey player on how to better his career and get further, either to college hockey or even the NHL, what would it be?- Preparation is everything. Some of the best opportunities in your hockey career and in life will come unexpectedly. It’s how you identify these opportunities and being physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared to capitalize on them that will be the game breaker.
What are you doing now? – I recently graduated with my Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University and now live in Ottawa with my wife, Robin. I’m currently serving as a policy advisor to Canada’s Minister of Public Services and Procurement.