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Hometown Visit: Burnaby Winter Club Helped Shape Dante Fabbro

Predators Defenseman Has Fond Memories of Hometown Rink Outside Vancouver

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Hometown Tour: Dante Fabbro

Fabbro gives a tour of his childhood rink in Canada

Preds blueliner Dante Fabbro shows off his childhood rink in Burnaby, B.C.

  • 06:26 •

It's a rather unassuming building nestled among the evergreen trees, a short drive east of Vancouver.

A passing glance would never allude to the amount of hockey players who have skated through these parts, those who got their start here and became some of the best in the world at what they do.

There's no need for the Burnaby Winter Club to be flashy, to boast or brag of the almost 50 NHLers who learned and developed here before going on to star across North America. Instead, the banners hanging from the rafters, signifying youth hockey championships across the province of British Columbia and beyond, will do the talking.

Dante Fabbro is responsible for a few of those pennants, honors that were won during his time spent here as a young man on some of the top youth teams in Canada. Visitors to the facility won't get far without seeing a giant photo blown up to cover an entire wall - with a 13-year-old Fabbro front and center - celebrating a bantam championship with his teammates.

Just a few years after his days as a stud, teenaged defenseman at the BWC had passed, he signed his entry-level contract with the Nashville Predators - and as he made his debut in March, he became the 48th alumnus of the Burnaby Winter Club to join the NHL ranks.

Former Preds forwards Cliff Ronning, Paul Kariya and Mike Santorelli also skated in Burnaby, and current stars like Mat Barzal - one of Fabbro's former teammates and closest friends - and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, also called this place their home away from home growing up.

Fabbro comes back here often during the summer months spent in and around the Vancouver metropolitan area, but this is the first offseason he's ever had with NHL games to his name, just another success story who can't even imagine how many victories he earned on those rinks.

"This place to me is pretty special," Fabbro said. "We won a lot of games, a lot of championships here, and this was definitely the stepping stone to help me get to where I am today. A lot of credit goes to a lot of people who work hard behind the scenes here, as well as my coaches. It was a lot of fun playing here."

It would be difficult to find a time when there wasn't a member of the Fabbro family walking through the doors of the BWC - both his father and grandfather have also laced them up here many a time, and his dad, Steve, now serves on the club's board of directors.

The two elder Fabbros knew this was the spot for Dante as well, and the now-21-year-old blueliner wouldn't have had it any other way. He still takes those lessons learned as a young lad with him to this day, and he needed them more than ever over the past 12 months, his busiest ever as a hockey player.

In the midst of captaining the Boston University Terriers, Fabbro joined Team Canada at the Spengler Cup at Christmastime. After that, it was back to BU to finish his season before signing with Nashville at the end of March, appearing in four regular-season games and six more contests in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nine more games with Team Canada at the World Championship - plus an errant puck to the face - concluded his 2018-19 season with a slew of new experiences.

In total, Fabbro skated 61 games - roughly 20 fewer than a regular NHL season - but a heavier workload than he had ever dealt with, and he's ever better for it.

"I understood myself a little bit better after this season, just with the type of player I am and who I need to be on the ice and how I need to work off the ice," Fabbro said. "When you go from college to pro, I think the biggest thing is you're kind of star struck a little bit, but the coolest thing was to see how [my teammates in Nashville] approached the games. They have a pro-like mentality and they're businesslike always, no matter where they are throughout the day, at the rink or away from the rink. That was a big eye opener for me, and I was able to use that for good.

"That helped a lot, just being able to approach the game and be mentally prepared for whatever is going to happen out there. That was a big asset that I thought helped me throughout [the World Championship] and my time in Nashville."

Fabbro understandably shut things down once he finally returned home in late May, admitting he may have slept "for like four days" when it was all said and done. He's wide awake now, however, back to his summer routine of training and skating in the morning before partaking in other activities during the afternoon, whether it be rollerblading, basketball or a trip to the beach.

There's no shortage of outdoor options in these parts, and Fabbro believes participating in sports other than hockey in his spare time make him a better all-around athlete. He also has to be strict in quelling his sweet tooth, while consuming a diet that mostly consists of different meats and vegetables in the summer months.

If all goes well, Fabbro will arrive to Predators training camp in September ready to fulfill what the team believes will be a top-four role on the backend, the greatest responsibility he will have seen in his young career.

The chances are he'll be ready, however, and plenty of the credit goes to those who find themselves on the ice in Burnaby year after year. It's worked for Fabbro and 47 other NHLers so far, and maybe one day, he'll bring a big piece of silver back to the BWC to say thank you.

"That's one of the big perks of coming back and skating on that ice, the people you see from the past and whatnot," Fabbro said. "There's definitely something special about this place and how people can bond in that sense and develop those friendships that last a long time. I've experienced that firsthand. It's a special place."

Video: Fabbro gives a tour of his childhood rink in Canada

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