Heading into his final season in the Western Hockey League, Gage Alexander knew he’d be pulling a different colour jersey over his head when the 2022-23 season began.
He just didn’t know which colours they would be.
“(Winnipeg) had planned to move me and told me they were going to try and find me a new home,” Alexander explained. “I had already thought about which teams might be interested, but it was quite a long process. I was definitely thankful it got done, and especially with Swift Current.”
The news broke Friday afternoon that the Broncos had acquired Alexander from the Winnipeg ICE in exchange for a 2025 third-round pick.
The news was music to the 6’6” goaltenders ears.
“Swift Current was one of my most hated teams to play against,” he laughed. “They’re a hard team to play against. They were always on top of me all night just chipping away, so it’s a good thing I’m on this side now.”
Originally drafted in the seventh round by the then-Kootenay Ice in 2017, Alexander has come a long way since as he enters his final season of WHL action as a NHL drafted goaltender. The Anaheim Ducks selected Alexander with the 148th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.
That was following the 24-game hub season in Regina, which proved instrumental to Alexander’s development.
“I loved it,” he stated. “Not a lot of people had the opportunity to play hockey during that time, so it was an awesome chance for the league to give us a chance to play. It was a big part of my development, being able to focus on hockey for two and a half months straight. Then there’s the team aspect of it, you were always hanging around with your teammates and being able to bond because of that.”
Alexander appeared in nine of Winnipeg’s 24 games that spring, posting a 6-3-0 record with a .917 save percentage and a 2.23 goals against average.
The year prior, Alexander was limited to just seven games with the ICE, but always stayed positive to focus on improving his game.
“I was kind of the third guy in line that year,” he said. “I was behind a 20-year-old goaltender and you kind of know how that works. I’ve had the chance to learn a lot of great things from some older goalies in Winnipeg with Liam Hughes and Carl Stankowski. I know it looks like I haven’t played a lot of games, but I don’t think about that too much because of how much I’ve learned throughout that whole process. I’ve been a third-string goalie, a backup and a starter at times. It’s just another thing for me to look back on later in my career and view it as a positive.”
Alexander recently attended his second development camp with the Ducks, and says he likes to use the experience to learn as much as possible during the short camp.
“It’s just a huge learning opportunity for me,” he said. “I like to sit back and listen a lot to understand what it’s going to take to be an NHL player. Going into my second camp this past year, being a bit of an older guy there allows me to try and push some of the younger guys to be their best.”
Following a strong 2021-22 season, in which he went 18-7-2-2, Alexander says he’s looking forward to being part of a team that has high expectations for itself, much like his previous organization.
“Being in a winning atmosphere is something that’s a positive, and I want to bring that to Swift Current,” he said. “If I’m able to give the Broncos a chance to win every night, then I’m doing my job. I see this team as one with very high stature and one of the best teams in the Central Division.”