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Canadian-born transfer making impact on FGCU hockey

Florida Gulf Coast University’s junior
forward Dillon Duprey was born in Canada,
and like most hockey players, he got involved
in hockey because of his parents.
“I started skating when I was 2,” Duprey
said. “As soon as I learned how to walk, I
learned how to skate. I grew up on the ice.
Any time I got a chance to go to the rink,
that’s where I’d be and I haven’t looked back
since.”
Because Duprey learned to skate and
play hockey at such a young age, as soon
as he was old enough, he got involved with
organized hockey. He played AAA hockey at
a very young age, and continued throughout
his teenage years.
“I played in championships as a kid. The
No. 1 team in AAA when I was a kid was the
Toronto Marlies,” Duprey said. “My team
was No. 2, and we played them in the city
championship. We went to game seven. Even
though we were only 12 years old, we had
2,000 fans there watching us. It was one of
the most memorable moments of my life.”
Duprey went through a rough patch
in his years playing hockey with multiple
injuries. He thinks that part of what defines
his hockey career is the hardest injury he
sustained when he broke both bones in his
arm. The day he got his cast off, he again
broke the same bones. That kept him out of
hockey for the remainder of the season.
“I spiraled downhill because of it. For
a number of years, I wasn’t growing. I was
really small and I got cut from the secondplace
AAA team and went to the sixth-place
AAA team, from there I went to the lastplace
team,” Duprey said. “That made me
not like hockey for a few years. I actually quit
two years ago. My best friend, who I grew
up with my entire life, has been playing for
the OHL and got drafted to the Detroit Red
Wings last year. He said to me, ‘I played
with you my entire life. You have a lot of skill
and talent. You should come back and see
what you can do.’ I still had a passion for the
sport.”
Junior days
Duprey worked hard all summer to get
back in shape. That year, he went to main
camp tryouts with the OHL London Knights.
He skated with some of the best players who
got drafted in the NHL. He was offered a
position with the London Knight Juniors,
but he had already committed to a team in
Brandon, closer to his hometown. He claims
that’s where he fell in love with hockey again.
“Playing juniors was awesome. Junior
league was the epitome of being a hockey
player. I got to be with the guys all the time.
We were on the ice almost every day. I lived
and breathed hockey.”
Duprey also attended school while he
played juniors. His experience differed
a bit from the other guys playing. When
he went to the rink, he didn’t think about
anything else. The ice was his safe haven.
He was worry-free, and his problems all
disappeared when he was skating. He claims
that playing juniors helped him grow up.
He hates not being on the ice. He hates not
being on the power play or the penalty-kill.
The older guys on team will always take
those roles. They’ve been there longer and
have more experience. Understanding and
accepting that helped him mature, and
be more of a team player focused on team
success.
“My parents are big on school, so I was
ready to pack it in again and just focus on
school. I dropped down to play under-21
AAA, which is lower than juniors. It isn’t
very good hockey,” Duprey said. “I played
there as the captain of the team last year.
I planned on staying there, and maybe
going back to juniors to see where I could
go. Matt Maida, who is the director of
communications for FGCU Ice Hockey and
an alumnus of FGCU, was my coach. He
told me that I had been playing great in the
league and I had a good opportunity to go
play college hockey in the States.”
He’s always dreamed of coming to the
States and playing college hockey. He thinks
there’s nothing better than just being able to
play hockey all day, every day.
“I look at my buddy and laugh at his
life. He gets to play hockey all day long. He
doesn’t have to go to school. That’s what he’ll
do for the rest of his life. I’m very proud of
him, but also a little jealous. I love hockey.
It’s my one true love. It’s been rough to me,
but I’ll never stop loving it.”
Duprey wanted to come to the States to
play hockey and go to college because the
universities in Canada don’t get the same
respect that the ones here do.
“When I was in juniors, we came to
Florida and played FGCU last January,”
Duprey said. “I saw the campus and met
Coach Brinkworth and some of the boys.
I fell in love with it. What’s not to love? It’s
Southwest Florida. So I thought to myself,
‘What’s better than living in Florida, going to
school and playing hockey?’ I decided to take
the plunge and it’s been the best decision I
ever made in my life.”
He took two years of classes in Canada
and is considered a transfer student at
FGCU.
“I’m working hard this year to not just
be a part of the team, but an impact player
on the team. I’m trying to be the guy that
everyone looks up to, the guy that puts
points on the board for the boys,” Duprey
said. “It was a hard feeling to just stand
there outside the glass watching our first tie
and first loss, knowing that there’s nothing I
can do about it.
You’re seeing the guys you’ve bonded with,
your family, and they’re out there battling,
but there’s nothing you can do about it
except hope for the best.”
Duprey is a legal studies major. He wants
to graduate, go to law school and become
an attorney. He takes 13 credit hours, goes
to school full-time and is in line for a job
at Alico Arena. He likes to stay busy. But
hockey is No.1 in his life. He wants to go to
Europe and play professional hockey.
“A lot of guys want to go for the
experience. But if I can go there and earn a
living, I will play as long as I can there.”
Family matters
He went home for winter break and
got to see his family. He says his mom and
dad are his best friends. They’ve given
everything to him. They provided him with
all the tools to be successful. They gave him
guidance, knowledge and financial support.
They’re his heroes. They both worked hard
to get where they are, and be able to provide
he and his brother every opportunity to be
successful.
“My parents are coming to visit Jan. 30.
I’m super excited,” Duprey said, “I can’t
wait. They’re staying for 10 days, so they’ll
get to see two weekends of me playing
hockey down here. I have everything
planned with restaurants I want to go to,
there’s a lot of stuff here that we don’t have
back in Canada. Plus we’re going to drive to
Sunrise to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs
play the Florida Panthers with some of the
boys from the team.”
He enjoyed going home for the winter
break. He didn’t have to worry about school.
He also got to see a lot of his old friends, his
hockey buddies.
“We went out at midnight to the outdoor
rink. It was nice to be outside, under the
lights with snow falling, playing hockey with
the friends I grew up with,” Duprey said. “It
was a perfect setting. That’s where I really
fell in love with the game, outside with no
worries when it’s just fun.”
To be successful, the team has to have
every guy wanting to work hard for every
guy on the team. Duprey thinks his team has
had that attitude. They just can’t get ahead
of themselves. He claims that they have to
keep working, take every day as it comes and
drive right to nationals. To get the automatic
bid to nationals, they have to be No. 1 in their
division, which is where they are now, so
they just have to keep winning. Sometimes
they come out with so much passion and
energy on Friday, and crush a team. Then
on Saturday, they think they don’t have to
show up. That’s the beauty of hockey. If you
don’t show up every night, you’re not the
best team. That’s what happened when they
lost to Central Michigan. They have to stay
disciplined. The guys have to push each
other during practice and on or off the ice.
They’ve had a lot of success this season and
there’s a reason for it.
“Hockey guys are all the same. We have
different accents from places such as New
York, Canada and Minnesota, but we’re all
similar people,” Duprey said. “This team is
a great group of guys. We bonded quickly.
We would do anything for each other, and
that’s what you need to be a really successful
team.”
Duprey took what he learned and is
applying it now. He makes sure that he’s
doing everything he can to not just help
himself, but everyone else. There’s a close
running for points right now on the team.
Other than Daniel Echeverri, there are a
few players who are really close in points.
Duprey missed eight games because of
an injury, and is still pretty high in points.
Physically, he claims he’s not where he
wants to be. He wants to make a serious
impact this semester. He wants to be the goto
guy.
“My favorite nights aren’t the rookie
parties or team parties with a bunch of
people and girls. My favorite times are when
we all get together as a team, and just enjoy
the people we’re with. I live with my best
friend, Myles Neunecker,” Duprey said. “So
every day is a good time. We have a tradition
when Kevin Zipkin comes over for dinner
before games. Then we go play a game.
Those are the best days. The days that are
the most fun are any days that hockey is
involved.
“I have a lot of people I’m grateful to for
helping me be where I am today. I want to
say thank you to coach Bob (Brinkworth),
Matt Maida, and Devon ‘Chubs’ Neunecker
(Myles Neunecker’s father). They have all
done unbelievable things to help me out
and make this possible for me. They have
no idea how much I appreciate it. Number
one, though, would be my parents. I am
so thankful to my parents for everything
they’ve given me and allowed me to be.”
If the Eagles get the automatic bid, they
have a month off between the final game
and nationals. Duprey believes that it will
be a good thing. He believes the place to get
better is in the gym. There’s only so much
someone can do on the ice to work on stride
and speed. Getting a harder shot, stronger
and faster all come from working out. To get
to the next level, they have to be in the gym.
“My parents taught me there’s nothing
you can’t achieve if you work hard at it,”
Duprey said. “I watched them work hard
my whole life. Now I’m working hard to get
where I want, and I will.”

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