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'I had to do what's best for me'; despite heading to UMD, Grand Forks' Spicer preps for NHL Draft at UND

The Grand Forks Central product hopes to be one of the 217 players selected in this week’s NHL Draft.

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Cole Spicer practicing at the Ralph Engelstad Olympic rink
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GRAND FORKS– Ralph Engelstad Arena has produced plenty of NHL talent, Cole Spicer is ready to be the next.

“I watched Brock Boeser, Toews, Parise, you watch all those great guys come through here and play and it just makes you want to be the hockey player that they are,” said Spicer.

“You try and keep your mind off the draft as much as possible, but obviously it’s a pretty cool moment so it’s kind of always popping back into your head. You dream of it as a kid, but now that it’s here it’s kind of surreal almost, and just trying to make the most of it,” he added.

Head to an evening practice at the Ralph’s Olympic rink and the Grand Forks native is easy to spot. Cole is the rare skater in UND territory who is decked out in Bulldog maroon and gold as soon as he steps out onto the ice.

“Oh yeah, every single time. Obviously I’m not ashamed to be going to Duluth. I think it’s awesome, a great program, so might as well show it off,” said Spicer.

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Days before hearing his name called in the NHL Draft, there’s still nowhere Cole would rather be than the hometown rink.

“It’s pretty weird, but just the amount of times that I’ve been here, I’ve skated here and trained here, it just feels natural almost. I have trained and skated with these guys since I’ve been 5-years-old. We’re all super close, so it’s more being with them, than the facility I’m at.”

After winning a state title with Grand Forks Central in 2019, Cole committed to UND. With the forwards already set for next season’s team at UND though, Cole was given the option to wait and come back for the 2023-2024 season, or continue his hockey career elsewhere. Instead of opting to play a year of junior hockey, Cole decided to commit to NCHC rival Minnesota-Duluth.

“I mean yeah, it sucked, being the hometown kid, being committed for so many years. But I had to do what was best for me, and even though it was super, super tough, I’m still super excited for Duluth,” said Spicer.

Spicer spent only his freshman season at Grand Forks Central. He went on to play for the Honeybaked 15U team in Michigan, followed by spending two years with the USA Hockey National Development Team.

“I already played a half college schedule already. I felt that I did pretty good in those games and I kind of felt more that was more my speed of play. So I think going to college I just think it will benefit me more,” added Spicer.

Cole’s next step may not include Fridays and Saturdays at the Ralph, buut Grand Forks and the rinks there will always be home.

“There’s a ton of good hockey players that come out of Grand Forks. It’s a hockey town, so everyone is super supportive, everyone kind of knows what’s going on and are super excited for me,” said Spicer.

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Cole plans to watch the draft at home in Grand Forks surrounded by family and friends.

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