Cranbrook, B.C. – He hasn’t been living in Canada for very long – just over two months in fact – but in that short time he’s learned a lot about the country he now calls home.
Gilian Kohler – ICE 2000-born forward from Biel, Switzerland – was selected third overall by the Kootenay ICE in the 2017 CHL Import Draft.
Kohler arrived in British Columbia just before training camp in late August, and since hitting the ice he has noticed a difference in the way hockey is played in North America compared with Europe.
“The rinks are smaller and everything you do, you have to do faster, you have to think faster, you have to skate a lot and it’s really more physical,” Kohler said describing the North American-style game.
Kohler said he’s had to make adjustments due to the increased physicality but mentioned he’s getting more comfortable as every day goes by.
Kohler has appeared in 19 games this season where he’s registered two goals and six points with the ICE.
The transition off the ice has been smoother. Kohler explained that the scenery in Cranbrook is similar to that of his hometown of Biel.
“Here in Cranbrook, especially, it looks like where I’m from in Switzerland with the mountains and the small town. I really like it.”
Kohler said that he knew how much Canadians enjoyed hockey but found it surprising how much passion and love there is for the sport over here.
“All the people love hockey; how much people come to watch the games, it’s really nice.”
That same type of passion is what Kohler brings to the arena on a daily basis. He started playing hockey at the age of three or four, following in his brother’s footsteps.
“After school I went every day to skate with my parents and then I started to play hockey in a club near my town 15 minutes away.”
Kohler would continue to improve while working his way up the hockey ranks in Switzerland. Last season, Kohler recorded eight goals and 50 points in 43 games for Biel-Bienne U20. He also had the honour of representing his country at the 2017 U18 World Championships. Kohler’s stellar play was enough to catch the eye of the ICE hockey staff, who selected him in the CHL Import Draft in the summer.
“It was always my dream to come to Canada and when I was drafted I was really excited. It was a big thing for my family.”
Kohler said that one day he would like to play in the NHL, noting he is not the biggest guy so he needs to execute all the small details at a high level. If he doesn’t make it to the best league in the world, Kohler stated that he would like to play in a men’s league in Europe and one day represent his country in the Olympics or at the World Championships.
GILIAN KOHLER’S FAVOURITE FIVE
|FOOD:||Cordon Bleu with fries|
|PRE-GAME MEAL:||Chicken with tortellini|
|HOCKEY PLAYER:||Patrick Kane|
|HOCKEY MEMORY:||Participating in the Pee Wee tournament in Quebec|