Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2021

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HOCKEY:

Extreme sports star shines at Wranglers’ free agent tryout

Gabriel Andre

Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Sun

Edmonton native Gabriel Andre participates in passing drills during a free agent try-out camp held by the Las Vegas Wranglers at the SoBe Ice Arena on Tuesday.

Red Bull Crashed Ice 2009

Wranglers free agent tryout

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It takes a certain type of person to compete in the Red Bull Crashed Ice race.

The type of person willing to hurl himself down a 1,500-foot long ice track that weaves through downtown Quebec City as nearly 90,000 fans create a deafening roar for a sport that combines skiing and hockey.

A person who can ignore fear and reason in order to conquer jumps, hairpin turns, a 180-foot vertical drop and other racers trying their best to send each other crashing to the ice.

If Gabriel Andre can play hockey as well as he competes in Red Bull Crashed Ice, that reckless, yet skilled downhill skater might just become the newest member of the Las Vegas Wranglers.

"You really have to see it to believe it," Andre said. "I don't know how much the skills relate, but they are definitely good things to have."

Andre, the 2006 Red Bull Crashed Ice world champion and legend in Canadian extreme sports, can now add another title to his resume -- the sole survivor of the Wranglers free agent tryout.

The 28-year-old Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, native impressed Wranglers coach and general manager Ryan Mougenel enough during the free agent tryout at the SoBe Ice Arena this week to earn an invitation to the Wranglers training camp, which starts Friday.

"(Andre) skates real well," Mougenel said. "He's a little bit of a cerebral player. He's a guy that has played in the senior league in Canada, which is a tough league. It's not a bad league. You know, there are guys that slip through the cracks, and he's going to get a small window in training camp. Like I said, I'm looking for the right guys, not necessarily the best guys."

Andre stood out among the 22 skaters and two goalies who signed up for the joint Wranglers/Bakersfield Condors tryout Monday and Tuesday.

Despite only recruiting one player to training camp, Mougenel was still pleased with the camp.

"I think overall it was a success," Mougenel said. "It's been a real tough summer for players. It's not a seller's market that's for sure. There's a plethora of players and obviously a limited amount of roster spots so it's an opportunity to maybe give some players, like (Andre) a shot at pro hockey."

Now, Andre will have to display his skills not against free agents but with experienced ECHL and AHL players.

But the 6-foot, 197-pound forward has logged some significant time in minor-pro hockey.

The former oil refinery worker actually won an Australian Ice Hockey League championship as a member of the New Castle North Stars in 2008.

Shining in the free agent tryout, though, means nothing once training camp starts.

Earning an ECHL roster spot, however, would mean everything for Andre.

"I know I have to turn the intensity on and be prepared," Andre said. "It's what I've been fighting for so many years. It would mean the world to myself and all the people around me that have been supporting me. Every kid in Canada dreams of playing in the NHL and I'm still holding on to that dream."

Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].

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