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Kaib Ready for the Next Step

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
“Leave no stone unturned” is an idiom that’s normally used when searching for a lost item or embarking on a house hunt.

But for Barrett Kaib, that was basically his motto when it came to playing sports.

It’s the reason why the Upper St. Clair native – who is ranked among the best players available for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, set for June 24-25 in St. Paul, Minn. – got involved in hockey in the first place, albeit slightly later than most.

Barrett Kaib at CONSOL Energy Center.
“Growing up, I played all sports,” Kaib said. “I liked to be active. I didn’t actually start skating until I was 8 ½ years old, just because my friends were playing and it was just another sport for me to try.

“I ended up liking it. I wasn't really good my first year or my second year, but as soon as I picked it up, I got pretty good at it and I just loved playing. It was a fast game, fast-paced, lot of hitting and a lot of physical play.”

Fast forward 10 years later, and that physicality has become one of the defenseman’s greatest strengths.

“He doesn't mind the physical game at all,” said Kyle Woodlief, the chief scout and publisher of the Red Line Report, an independent scouting service. “He will give and take hits to make plays.”

Kaib began playing competitive hockey with the SHAHA Panthers alongside fellow draft prospect and Upper St. Clair native Vince Trocheck. The two players both moved to the Pittsburgh Predators organization for three years after that, where they also played with Baldwin native John Gibson, the No. 1-ranked North American goaltender for this summer’s draft.

Barrett Kaib (photo credit: Tom Sorensen)
After that, Kaib and Trocheck both joined the Pittsburgh Hornets organization – the area’s elite travel program – for another three years, through Kaib’s freshman year of high school (where he also suited up for Upper St. Clair High School that season).

It wasn’t until the next year that Kaib decided to drop the other sports he was playing and concentrate solely on hockey. He attended Culver Academy in Indiana his sophomore year of high school to play before getting recruited by the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The opportunity (to play for the USNTDP) is just something you can’t pass up in my eyes,” Kaib said, who said his role on the team was to be an "aggressive, gritty, hard-nosed defenseman who's tough to play against."

And while it was a special two years with “the Program,” as Kaib and his teammates call it – concluding with a gold medal at the World Under-18 Championships on April 24 in Crimmitschau, Germany, alongside fellow Pittsburgh-area prospects Gibson and J.T. Miller – Kaib is looking ahead to the fall, as he’s earned a full-ride scholarship to play Division I college hockey with Providence College in Rhode Island.

Barrett Kaib (photo credit: Tom Sorensen)
“The past few years of my life were great,” Kaib said. “But you’re just kind of glad it’s over, almost, because you worked so hard. … Now just looking to college, I’m just looking to go and get a fresh start and just be with a new group of guys just like you were the past two years, get to know some people, study a lot in the major that I’m doing and hope to have a good college experience.”

Woodlief believes that a change of pace will do wonders for the 5-11, 188-pound blueliner, who is currently ranked No. 193 overall on the Red Line Report.

“I think his game is one of quick puck movement and quick decision making, and he’s a terrific passer,” Woodlief said. “He makes that first outlet pass right on the tape. I think because of that, he can also help on the second power-play unit and that he’s a good puck distributor. … For me, I would take a shot on him late. I would see him as some teams taking a shot on him in the sixth, seventh round, because I think he’s got a better talent level than that if he gets his confidence level back up when he moves on to a different level.”

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