Photo by Rena Laverty
When thinking of all the states across America that were the pinnacle of hockey in its early days, many of us think about the "3 M's" - Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota - but today, hockey has spread so large across the nation.
Hailing from North Dakota, Cole Spicer found his passion on skates at a young age by following the biggest name in hockey around his area: The University of North Dakota.
“Where I grew up, the University of North Dakota is kind of a big deal,” said Spicer. “They are very well known for their hockey team, especially. Watching guys like [Blackhawks forward Jonathan] Toews and [Canucks forward Brock] Boeser go through there made me fall in love with the game and want to follow in their footsteps.”
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For Spicer, the culture that surrounded North Dakota hockey also provided a place to escape, as well as a way to bring people together, even with a small presence of organized hockey at the time.
“A lot people play out there just for fun, not too many people take it seriously which is one of the reasons I played in Minnesota and Michigan growing up. It’s all fun growing up, so you just enjoy playing it out there.”
Spicer had numerous players that he grew up watching that inspired him to become the skater he is today and sparked the drive that keeps him pushing towards his goals every day.
Specifically, those who wore the UND jersey, such as future professional skaters and past teammates Corban Knight and Danny Kristo.
“Obviously, you look up to the high school players just growing up in your town. I always liked Knight and Kristo, who played at UND together. I don’t really model my game after them but I always liked those two guys growing up.”
In NTDP history, Spicer is only one of five players who have come from North Dakota, joining Tyler Kleven, Judd Caulfield, Keaton Thompson and Quinn Fylling. For him, Spicer is beyond grateful to be in a position where he can help pave way for future North Dakota greats.
“It’s really cool. I have two younger brothers, so their friends are always asking me questions and stuff about the program. It’s great that they know I’m here. I hope it just inspires more people from North Dakota.”
In the Fall of 2022, Spicer will join the incoming freshman class at UND as well as become a member of the Fighting Hawks ice hockey team.
Although this is a dream he has been chasing his whole life, knowing that he will be able to play close to his family and friends is what he most looks forward to in the upcoming years.
“It will be very nice,” stated Spicer. “This is my third year being away from home so going back and playing three minutes away from where I grew up will be surreal.”
With the opening games of the 2021-22 season under his belt and a big match-up against Michigan State University on the clock, Spicer is just excited to continue the journey ahead with his teammates and brothers in their final NTDP season.
“Just growing with the boys more. We’ve been together for a full year and it was a COVID year, so I’m hoping this year’s a little more normal. Hopefully U18 Worlds turns out the way we want it to. At the end of the day, just growing with them and becoming closer is what I’m most excited about.”
Photo by Rena Laverty