Jr. Golden Knights grad, Vegas native Day makes jump to NA3HL’s Wild
Caleb Day admits his path to the NA3HL’s Gillette Wild was unconventional.
Equally unique is the story of how the 18-year-old Las Vegas native chose hockey as his sport of choice.
At the end of the day, though, Day said he wouldn’t have his story written any other way.
“This is actually an interesting way to get on a junior team – didn’t have a tryout, nothing like that,” said Day. “There’s a yearly exposure camp in Las Vegas called Globals, and I attended it this year. The deal was that if I had received no offers or feedback from teams, I’d have to go to college. By the fourth day, I had no offers until a AAA team and (Gillette coach) Steve Kruk came and talked to me. Kruk offered me a roster spot not too long after the camp. It was a tough decision, but ultimately going to play juniors now was the best thing I could’ve done.”
Now firmly immersed with the Wyoming-based franchise, Day is enjoying his junior hockey experience so far.
“The thing that appealed to me about the team was mainly the facilities,” Day said. “Obviously, being with the team now there’s much more than that. The staff is also top-tier in terms of junior teams. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was excited to leave home, but I knew it was something that had to be done if I wanted to progress in hockey. I do like the small-town life compared to the big city life, though – way less traffic.”
In getting his start in hockey, Day said his tale is “a strange one.”
“Basically, I had started watching hockey since before I could remember, and I would get these long foam tubes and a little foam puck-shaped pad, and I’d shoot around like I was a hockey player,” explained Day. “It wasn’t until I was 10 that I started skating. A family friend gave money to start up hockey, so we got some gear and went through a little introduction to skating at the Las Vegas Ice Center. I started playing because at the time, I wanted to get one of those cool goalie masks that I saw on the TV all the time. Goalie equipment, as we all know, is expensive, so I just started playing hockey as a forward.
“It was a great time once I started getting better.”
And like most young budding hockey stars, Day began in the house leagues. He eventually moved up to travel hockey with the Las Vegas Jr. Wranglers and Nevada Storm before skating last season with the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights.
“Some of my standout coaches would have to include Ken Quinney, as he was my first coach and helped pave the way for stuff I do to this day,” said Day. “Another standout coach would have to be Dell Truax. He had coached lower levels in the past, but with what he was given, he really did well in his position. A huge part of my development this past offseason has been Brian Salcido, and I believe I wouldn’t be where I am without him.”
Moving forward, Day has his goals set at a realistic pace.
“My short-term goal right now is to be a great teammate in Gillette and to learn from the vets and coaches as much as I can, as development is basically the biggest part of this level of hockey,” Day said. “Winning a Frontier Division championship wouldn’t be too bad, either. In terms of long-term goals, in a perfect world I’d like to play college hockey for UNLV and maybe move on from there. In terms of schooling and life, I’d like to attend school and study psychology, as I feel it could impact the world positively while also being a very flexible job in terms of location.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Nov. 1, 2018)