Even though he spent his two years in the Ontario Hockey League in a backup role, Barrie Colts fans will fondly remember the excitement that goaltender Daniel Gibl brought to the Barrie Molson Centre. Gibl has returned to his native Slovakia and will start the season in the country’s tier 2 1.Liga with HC Topolcany.
Gibl played two years in the OHL, 2013-14 and 2014-15, with the Barrie Colts. Daniel was the 47th pick by the Colts in the 60 player first round of the 2013 CHL Import Draft. He was the only goaltender taken in the first round that year.
Over his two years in Barrie, Gibl played a supporting role to number one goalie MacKenzie Blackwood. The Czech press is quick to point out that Daniel’s goals against average and save percentage were better than Blackwood’s in each of the two seasons.
Gibl was on the bench for Slovakia at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships held jointly between Toronto and Montreal. Slovakia came through with a bronze medal, behind Canada and Russia. The team lost in the semi-final game to Canada, 5-1, but were able to take out Sweden in the bronze medal game. Daniel did not see action in the tournament, backing up Denis Godla who was named tournament MVP despite being a goaltender on the bronze medal winning team.
2015-16 was supposed to start in Finland for Daniel Gibl. After things fell through, he signed for one year with HC Topolcany in Slovakia’s 1.Liga, a step down from the Extraliga. It would not be surprising to see him called up to the elite league at some point in the season.
The franchise dates back to 1932 and plays out of the 3,400 seat Topvar Arena in Topolcany, Slovakia. The team has struggled in recent years, reaching the post season just twice since 2007-08 and not winning a playoff series since 2006-07.
Topolcany competes in the 12 team 1.Liga with each team playing 40 regular season games. The Slovakia U20 team plays an exhibition schedule with the league’s clubs. In 2014-15, HC Topolcany placed ninth and out of post season contention.
The city has around 27,000 residents and is located in western Slovakia on the banks of the Nitra River. The historic city dates back to the middle ages and nearby Topolcany Castle still stands, built in the 13th century. During the communist era, the city thrived as a military base.