NHL’er Smith Forever Connected To Steinbach Through The Loewen Family

Content Provided By: Dave Anthony/Steinbach Online


Nashville Predators forward Cole Smith last suited up for the Steinbach Pistons in 2015/16 but ever since then, he’s left a piece of his heart in the southeast thanks to his billets Colin and Alysia Loewen.

Recently, Colin and Alysia took a trip down to Nashville to see Cole in his new home for the first time as an NHL’er.

“We had not gone to see Cole play in Nashville, so we decided to take the opportunity to go, just the two of us. We went down to watch them play Ottawa and Minnesota” explains Loewen. “Watching Cole play is such a highlight for us. We think back to all those years ago when Cole was living with us and just some of those memories flooded back. Cole’s dad Tommy was also there, and we were able to spend some time with him as well. He knew the rink’s ins and outs, and we got to watch morning skate together. Nashville is a beautiful place to watch a game, one of the best in the league, they really know how to entertain.”

Earning everything he’s got to this point through dedication and hard work, Loewen says it’s been a thrill to see Smith find such success. “I’ve always had a lot of respect for Cole. The way he plays the game, the way he looks at adversity, and the way he sees challenges as something he can accomplish, I’ve always respected that. When I think about where he came from to where he is now, he worked so hard. At UND he earned everything he got, and he surprised so many doubters. He did the same in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals. Even when he started to crack the lineup in Nashville, it was the same thing there. In fact, locally here there were doubters that I’d talk to. I just knew from experience you can never underestimate Cole Smith. There’s something about him, if you put up a hurdle in front of him, he takes it as an invitation to challenge it and defeat it.”

As much as the Lowens left an impression on Smith, he did the same for Colin. “He got me into hunting and for people who know me, it’s become a really important part of my life. Hockey was a big part of our connection, but it was so much more than that. We look back at those years with great memories and it’s a story that’s still being written, which is the most exciting part.”

As long-time billets, the Lowens say no matter where a player may go in their life, the impact families can have will last a lifetime. “Billeting is one of those things, you become very vulnerable, you’re opening your home to someone who can be a complete stranger. It can seem like a bit of a daunting task, but we’ve found the relationships we’ve been able to build with the players and their families. Through billeting, we’ve come to learn how small and close the hockey world is. In our personal experience, we have billets playing all over the United States still, and one living in Japan. As of this summer, we’re going to be billet grandma and grandpa twice over. There are so many things that are long-lasting. You can think of billeting as a 6 or 8-month thing but it’s so much more than that. It’s a life-long impact.”

Sitting in the crowd at the Bridgestone arena wearing Cole Smith Predators jerseys, Colin and Alysia agree it was a surreal experience made even more special by the things that happened to Cole while they were there. “It was truly unbelievable. He happened to be in the starting lineup both nights we were there, so there’s an additional introduction on the big screen for that and we captured some of it on video. The fans have a big chant for whenever they score and Cole scored against the Wild. I caught that and the announcement on my phone, just to keep as a keepsake. That was absolutely spectacular, it’s hard to believe, you kind of have to pinch yourself.”

From billet family to forever family, the Smiths and Loewens will be always connected.