NAHL’s Ice Wolves get boost from Colorado native Gomez
Getting a call-up to the NAHL’s New Mexico Ice Wolves in mid-November was an opportunity Alex Gomez wanted to make the most of.
After skating for the NAHL’s newest franchise, he was asked by the team staff to be a permanent member of the team for the duration of the 2019-20 season.
“From the moment I arrived in Albuquerque, I felt welcomed and appreciated,” said Gomez, an 18-year-old native of Parker, Colo. “From the owner, the coaches, the equipment manager, the rink staff, just everyone involved with the organization had so much energy and positivity. The owner (Stan Hubbard), to me, seems to be going all out from renovations at the rink, a new bus for the team, a new workout facility next to the rink, just everything he seems to do is top notch. Coach (Phil) Fox and coach (Keenan) Kelly seem to be working hard to field a competitive team.”
Back on Nov. 9, Gomez notched his first NAHL goal, tallying against Topeka on home ice at Outpost Ice Arenas in Albuquerque.
Getting the chance to play junior hockey may have seemed like a pipe dream some years back.
“My parents had season tickets to the Avs so in second grade, I just came home from school one day and said, ‘I want to play hockey,’” said Gomez. “They were like, ‘Well, OK, but you don’t know how to skate and neither do we.’ So I enrolled in learn-to-skate in Arvada at the APEX Center and off I went.
The Gomez family then moved from Arvada to Parker, and the hockey continued.
“After our move to Parker, I joined the Colorado Rampage AAA program where I played 14U, 15U and 16U,” said Gomez. “Coach (Marc) Boxer taught me to ‘hunt the puck.’ Coach (Luke) Fulghum helped me to figure out my role as a support player and playmaker. The Rampage program really helped with my exposure to junior hockey.
“For 18U AAA, I transferred to the Colorado Thurderbirds because it worked out better for my school schedule and because I had heard really good things about coach (Kelly) Hollingshead. Coach Hollingshead was instrumental in developing my confidence and really getting my name out in front of junior hockey coaches and scouts.
And truth be told, Gomez was born to be a hockey player.
“A fun story about my name is when my mom was pregnant, they couldn’t decide on a middle name – they already had Alexander picked out as my first name,” said Gomez. “While at the Stanley Cup Final Game 7 at the Pepsi Center in 2001, they decided who ever scored the game-winning goal, that would be my middle name. Well, Alex Tanguay scored the game-winner, so Alexander Alex didn’t work.
“Then when Joe Sakic handed the Stanley Cup to Raymond Bourque, with all the emotion in the arena, they just looked at each other and said ‘Raymond,’ hence Alexander Raymond Gomez.”
Gomez also helped assist and coach the Colorado Avalanche Youth Sled Hockey Team from when he was 9 years old through high school and said he “was very fortunate to get to know the amazing kids.”
Looking ahead, Gomez wants to keep progressing up the hockey development ladder.
“My short-term goal is to become a dominant player in the NAHL and, hopefully, play hockey at a Division I college program,” he said. “My long-term goal is to go as far as possible with hockey, hopefully one day play in the NHL. And if that doesn’t happen, I can rely on my college degree.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Jan. 6, 2020)