Riese Gaber was chosen in the third round-40th overall by the Dubuque Fighting Saints in Phase Two of the USHL draft.
Now, the 18-year-old Gilbert Plains native is looking to gain a spot on this year's roster.
"Things are definitely going pretty good right now," said Gaber after yesterday's practice. "We start up exhibition games this weekend so I think that's where I'll get a little bit of a better idea where I stand with the team. I'm just enjoying it and working as hard as I can every day to make this team."
"It's a bigger step then what I've done before but it's a step in the right direction," he added. "Everyone here is a lot bigger and stronger. So with me being a smaller guy, I can't really outpower them so I have to use my hockey sense and skill. I'm trying to adapt to that right now."
Gaber and the rest of the Fighting Saints head to Cedar Rapids to take on the Roughriders on Friday. After that game, the two teams return to Dubuque for a rematch which will wrap up the team's exhibition schedule.
Heading into those tilts, Riese believes he has what it takes to make an impact on this team.
"I think I can make a difference on the ice for this team for sure," said Gaber. "I just need to keep working hard at the rink every day and do what I do best. If I do that, I'll have a good shot."
"I have pretty high expectations for myself," he added. "I think I might be a little bit nervous for the games, but not really a lot. I know what I'm capable of and I plan on doing good things."
The game of hockey has taken Riese to some great places.
He's played in two World Jr. A Challenges with Team Canada West. He's also won a Manitoba championship with Steinbach and Anavet Cup championship with Steinbach which allowed him the chance to play in the RBC Cup.
It's at a time like this when Riese will play against some of the top young players from all across North America, that he can use those experiences to help him.
"All of those games that I played in were super competitive with great players," said Gaber. "And out here everyone is really good so it translates well."
"Really anytime you get to play against top players it helps you," he added. "I'm just hoping I can use those experiences going forward."
The Fighting Saints begin their regular season next Friday against Green Bay.