Congratulations to Gabriel Vilardi on being drafted to the NHL, and becoming the Canadian International Hockey Academy’s first ever NHL selection. He was selected in the 1st Round, 11th overall by the Los Angeles Kings.
“The Los Angeles Kings select, from the Windsor Spitfires, Gabriel Vilardi.”With those words spoken Friday evening at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, history was made and a dream has come true.Vilardi was officially welcomed to the big leagues as he took to the stage and shook the hand of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and heard, “Welcome to the NHL.”Often being compared in style to future Hockey Hall of Famer Marian Hossa, Vilardi projects as a top six winger/centre that excels at both ends of the ice. At 6’3 and over 200 pounds, the Kingston, Ontario native has the necessary size and strength to make the jump to the NHL sooner rather than later.This is a monumental moment for CIHA, and part of the vision of Founder Robert Bourdeau when he opened the doors to CIHA in 2011.“For CIHA, the passage of Gabe Vilardi just proves how we can develop a young hockey player whose goals are to reach the AAA level and beyond,” Mr. Bourdeau said. “It also demonstrates how life at the Canadian International Hockey Academy prepares our athletes to deal with some of the challenges a young person may face when leaving home. The spotlight on Gabe will reflect on CIHA, and his time with us will demonstrate that our commitment to the student/athlete is like no other.”Vilardi spent the 2014-2015 season at CIHA where he had every opportunity to develop before the 2015 OHL Priority Selection. Like all student/athletes at CIHA, Vilardi would wake up every day and be just steps from the rink where he would practice daily with our highly trained coaches and have full access to our gym. He enjoyed a very successful year here, accumulating 57 points in 32 games including playoffs and winning the Hockey Eastern Ontario Player of the Year.Vilardi was then drafted by the Windsor Spitfires 2nd overall in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection. Through two seasons in Windsor, he scored 109 points in 123 games including playoffs and was named to the OHL Second All-Rookie Team in his 1st season. Vilardi is a key cog on his club, playing wing and centre while being referred to as the “engine for our team” by his coach Rocky Thompson.As the host team for the 2017 Memorial Cup, Vilardi’s Spitfires had a once in a lifetime chance to compete for the most sought after trophy in the Canadian Hockey League. The Spitfires would go 4-0, winning a thrilling final game 4-3 to be crowned Memorial Cup Champions. Vilardi finished with 7 points in 4 games and was named to the Memorial Cup All-Star Team. Earlier this week, Vilardi was selected to participate in Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Camp for evaluation. The main selection camp takes place in December where the best U-20 Canadian hockey players will vie for a spot on Team Canada’s National Junior Team.Not only is he a special talent on the ice, Vilardi was a role model off the ice during his time at CIHA.“Gabe’s commitment to better himself on a daily basis was what stood out for me the most,” said Mr. Bourdeau. “He always had a good attitude and a great work ethic. He was a quiet leader who led by example, and during his time in school he was an exemplary student, resident and hockey player. It was a privilege for CIHA to have a chance to help develop and grow Gabe’s game and we wish him all the best with the Los Angeles Kings“We would like to congratulate Gabe on his great accomplishments and wish him the best of luck as he dons his new jersey and begins the next chapter of his hockey career.

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