By Dan Ninham
One of the top scoring hockey players in the state of Minnesota made a full circle coming back home to Warroad HS for his senior season. The Class 1A second ranked Warriors currently have a 10-0 record. The number one state ranked team is Hermantown.
Daimon Gardner, Ojibwe, recently scored a hat trick, three goals in a 12-0 shutout first round game versus Grafton/Park River (ND) on December 29th in the Hockeytown Holiday Classic hosted by the Warroad HS Warriors.
“I think with him coming back to Warroad has allowed him to grow as a player and a person,” said Jay Hardwick, head boys’ coach of the Warroad HS Warriors hockey team. “He gets to play hockey again with a lot of the same players he did growing up.”
“It’s been a great opportunity for him to flourish as a hockey player with the ice time and the playing time he is getting. He seems to be having fun and has been a tremendous addition to our team.”
The Warriors are 9-0 overall and tied with the Roseau Rams with 3-0 records in the Mariucci Conference this 2021-22 season. They finished the 2020-21 season with a 13-5-2 record and Mariucci Conference runner-up to Roseau.
The Warriors and the Rams play each other in a conference game on January 5th.
Daimon talked about his team when he had his recent hat trick: “My line has a lot of chemistry this year. I usually play with Jayson Shaugabay and Murray Marvin, or Matt Hard. We all have a lot of skill and we usually outwork other teams. Jayson set up two of my goals, and Murray set me up for the other one.”
Jayson Shaugabay is also Ojibwe and was featured in a past The Circle story: https://thecirclenews.org/profiles-native-americans-in-sports/jayson-shaugabay-warroad-warrior-hockey-player-is-1st-round-draft-pick.
“We left Warroad after his grade seven year,” said dad Vince Gardner, Migsi Sahgaigan First Nation member, and also the Zamboni driver at home games. “He attended Starbucks Academy just outside of Winnipeg for his grade eight year and played AAA Hockey in Winnipeg.”
Daimon attended Shaftesbury HS in ninth and tenth grades. Check out Daimon Gardner’s story from two years ago at: http://www.ndnsports.com/daimon-gardner-ojibwe-continuing-the-family-tradition-of-excellence-in-hockey.
He earned the Most Valuable Player award in 2019-2020 in the Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL). He played for the Rink Hockey Academy of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The teams in the CSSHL are from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. He had a league leading 34 goals during the season.
Gardner signed his NLI (National Letter of Intent) this past November to play NCAA Division One hockey at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY. He verbally committed to Clarkson University before his 17th birthday. He returned back to Warroad, MN after starting the season with the USHL Omaha Lancers playing in seven games.
Casey Jones, head hockey coach of Clarkson University talked about his new recruit: “We are very excited about Daimon as a player and a student. He is a serious student athlete that we feel will fit right into our culture here at Clarkson.”
“Daimon has a high ceiling with his size, skill set and skating ability. We think he is a player that can make an impact at our level and play beyond college,” added Coach Jones.
“We have recent big forwards that have signed with NHL teams,” said Coach Jones. “We think he has that type of potential.”
“I made the move back from Omaha in hopes of winning a state title and more exposure,” said Daimon.
The 6-4, 205 lb. left handed shooter has 15 goals and 9 assists for 24 points for the season.
Daimon’s dad Vince said, “He was thinking about going back to Warroad at the beginning of last season. He wanted a chance to play in the state tournament because he knew that Warroad had a strong team.”
“It’s his NHL draft year and he knew he would receive a lot of ice time playing in Warroad,” added Vince.
“He may play another year of junior next year before going to Clarkson to pursue his education and hockey career,” said Vince.
“It’s exciting to see what’s going to happen,” added Vince.