Despite doubters, Kabore Dunn in hockey’s fast lane

Snubs can wear down athletes’ psyches, and thus their careers. They only added to Kabore Dunn’s resolve.

The six-foot-two defenceman from Mill Bay will play in tonight’s Junior A top-prospects game in Hamilton, Ont., after receiving no WHL interest and being cut, or rejected for even a tryout, by four B.C. Hockey League teams and two North American Hockey League teams before the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League took a chance on the Islander this season.

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“It hurts. And it humbles you,” said Dunn, about the rejections.

But now here he is, a pro prospect, committed to the historic NCAA Div. 1 University of Maine Black Bears program for the fall.

You learn a lot about yourself through it all, said Dunn.

“I was just simply dedicated, and it has paid off. “

Rule No. 1 of sports, if not life, is to believe in yourself even if nobody else does.

“If you go after it hard, there’s no reason why you can’t get it,” said Dunn.

“I came from a small community in Mill Bay and had to go to a large association in Cowichan Valley to play and pursue my hockey dreams,” said Dunn, a product of the Kerry Park and Cowichan Valley programs.

He progressed through the ranks, eventually playing for the Shawnigan Lake School hockey academy.

“I’m looked on as an offensive blue-liner but I also take care of my own end,” said Dunn, who has eight goals and 22 points in 40 games this season for the Oil Barons.

The 18-year-old said he is appreciative of all his Island coaches, which have included Brian Passmore, Rob Armstrong and NHL 1,000-plus game blue-liner and current Victoria Royals assistant coach Doug Bodger of Chemainus. There’s another connection in that current Oil Barons head coach Bob Beatty coached at Shawnigan Lake School and was also head coach of the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the BCHL in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Meanwhile, it’s becoming clear that hockey in Canada will not be able to thrive in the future unless it embraces the emerging Canadian demographic that is more comfortable with soccer and basketball.

Dunn was raised on the Island with the other half of his life rooted in his mom’s homeland of Ghana, a Commonwealth nation in Africa

“I have been to Ghana often to see family. It just seems normal to me [having a foot in two cultures],” said Dunn, who also played rugby while growing up on the Island.

A dual citizen of Canada and Ghana, Dunn became the first Ghana citizen ever listed by Central Scouting for the NHL draft when he was ranked in the fall, although he was left off Monday’s mid-term rankings for the 2020 NHL draft. But no problem regarding the latter. You overlook this Islander in this game at your own risk.

“I want to play at the highest level I can for the longest I can,” said Dunn.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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