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The Long Road Taken by Kubachka – R&T

Recorder & Times – Jonathon Brodie

Joey Kubachka is hoping for a smoother ride with the Brockville Braves than the trip it took to get him here.

The 19-year-old was playing for the Corpus Christi IceRays in Texas when he got the news he was traded to the Braves in late September.

So, he packed up his car and drove about 2,900 kilometres over the course of roughly 24 hours to his hometown Philadelphia. He stayed there for a few days before getting back in his car and then added about 600 more kilometres to the odometer, going all the way to Brockville.

Kubachka left Philadelphia at 6 a.m. and his first stop in town was to the Memorial Centre, arriving at around noon. At 3 p.m. he suited up in a Braves jersey and played in his first CCHL game. He didn’t even get a chance to check out his billet house.

“I wasn’t sure if I was playing or not,” said Kubachka. “I just ate something real quick because I hadn’t eaten. I got all the equipment the day of the game and then it was the first time using it, but I was ready to go.”

The evaluation by the coaching staff was positive for that first Oct. 1 game, impressed Kubachka was even ready to go at all.

He’s played in six games now and you can tell the winger is getting a bit better everyday, a little more comfortable.

Kubachka hasn’t even been with the Braves for a month and he’s already finding himself on Brockville’s power play as coach Jesse Winchester and his staff have been looking to utilize his powerful shot by replacing a defenceman on one of the units with the forward.

“It gives a little bit more space to set guys up,” said Kubachka, who scored his first and only goal so far in his fourth CCHL game. “I like coming down the left side and shooting, so I like playing on the left point.”

You would think planting a player in front of the net would be the best way to use a 6-foot-3, 200-plus-pound big man, but that’s the unusual thing about Kubachka. He looks like a bruiser and he’s built like a hitter, but he’s not that type of player.

The idea of Kubachka moving to Brockville was first mentioned by his coach at Corpus Christi, who said he knew Braves owner/general manager Dustin Traylen. The Texas bench boss thought the more-skilled CCHL would be a better fit for him than the North American Hockey League, which is, “More of a big physical league and that’s not really my game,” said Kubachka.

He definitely uses his size to his advantage, putting his weight into his shot and his build helps him in the corners. Those are nice additions, though, to the other tools you don’t expect from a guy his size to necessarily have like his easy skating style.

“A lot of (bigger) guys don’t have good footwork and I think that’s one of my strengths too,” said Kubachka.

His footwork on the gas pedals of a car apparently isn’t too bad either.

The Braves host the Hawkesbury Hawks on Friday with the puck dropping at 7:30 p.m.
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