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Polar Bear of the Week: Gabe Shipper ’26

December 2, 2022

Courtesy of Brian Beard
LIKE MAGIC: Forward Gabe Shipper ’26 scored a hat trick against Middlebury College last month and was named NESCAC Men’s Hockey Player of the Week. Shipper has been a vital component of Bowdoin's 4–0–0 start to the season.

Men’s hockey forward Gabe Shipper ’26 is taking the rink by storm. On November 19, he scored a hat trick against Middlebury College and was named NESCAC Men’s Hockey Player of the Week last Monday. Shipper also scored a goal against Johnson & Wales University in a game last Saturday and has six points in his last four games.

Shipper has been a key player in the hockey team’s  4–0–0 (2–0–0 NESCAC) campaign, which is its best start to a season since 2010.  Shipper is focused on improving his personal performance throughout the season and helping his team achieve its goal of winning a NESCAC or NCAA championship.

“You just have to take it one practice at a time … and just get better every day, but [a championship is] definitely the goal that we have in the back of our minds,” Shipper said.

Shipper started playing ice hockey when he was about six years old.  He recognizes that his sport of choice was out of the ordinary given that he grew up in California.

“I tried everything—soccer, baseball, football, basketball, etc. I never really liked [them] for whatever reason, but my older cousin, who I really looked up to, started playing hockey. I thought I might as well try, so I stuck to that ever since,” Shipper said.

Growing up, Shipper’s family and friends played an integral role in shaping his hockey career. He found his closest childhood friends on the ice, and they motivated him to keep coming back to practice.

He has also been inspired by his favorite professional player, Kailer Yamamato. With both Shipper and Yamamato being children of the west coast, the forward has been able to find connections between himself and his idol.

“He’s from Seattle. He grew up actually playing in L.A., so I watched him. [He is] definitely my role model. [Because he is a] small guy like me, I tried to model my game after him,” Shipper said.

Shipper always intended to play in collegiate hockey but  wanted to prioritize academics over athletics. Bowdoin stood out to him when he was touring colleges, particularly for the campus community.

“The student atmosphere here is amazing. Being in the locker room … I could feel the group was really tight. The boys really support each other. Along with that, it just seemed like the student body just really had a passion for the campus,” Shipper said.

Now that Shipper is part of the team, his favorite part about playing ice hockey at Bowdoin is his teammates and the close-knit dynamic they have.

“Everyone gets along super well. It’s definitely the closest team I’ve ever been a part of, and obviously I’ve only been here for three, four months,” Shipper said.

This season, the players are focusing on mapping out their goals prior to games with the help of their coach, Ben Guite. Shipper said his most memorable goals of the season, like his first collegiate goal and his third goal against Middlebury, have come as a result of buying into the team’s mindset.

“It’s a culmination of everything we’re preaching in terms of our character and our team goals and our team,” Shipper said.

Shipper believes that, at the collegiate level, mentality plays the biggest role in overall performance.

“It’s [about] poise and recognizing the amount of space and time you have out there and just slowing the game down, letting the game come to you,”  he said.

Shipper is aiming to continuously grow as a player and hopes to play in every game for the rest of the season.

“I know that’s a stretch, being a first year, but again, I’m not too concerned about stuff I can’t control. I really just want to get better every day. If that means that I can be in the lineup, then I’d be pretty happy,” Shipper said. “I’m trying to work hard during the week, and I think the biggest thing is having trust in my preparation and then knowing that I can perform at my best.”

The men’s hockey team will take the ice against Colby College (4–0–0; 2–0–0 NESCAC) in Waterville tomorrow night.


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