The Steinbach Pistons are excited to announce that forward Cole Smith has committed to the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks of the NCAA Division 1.
After an invitational visit to UND this past weekend, Smith was given a once in a lifetime opportunity. Smith took part in a UND team breakfast, video session and then was presented with this question - Do you want to play for UND next year?
“I was overjoyed,” said the 6’3, 195lbs forward from Brainerd, Minnesota. “My first reaction was pure excitement, thinking about how all the hard work has finally paid off.”
The UND staff told Smith that he had some time to think about making the commitment. It was probably more of a formality for Smith because he couldn’t wait to relay hs choice following UND’s game Saturday evening.
“I think they were expecting me to take a little bit more time, but I just wanted to say yes,” Smith said about getting the chance to play on a top ranked school in the NCAA Division 1.
“There reaction and excitement when I said yes reinforced my decision on wanting to go there,” said Smith. “The tradition there and how they treat their players is top notch.”
Smith is a well-rounded athlete who had a chance to pursue scholarships with his ability in track and field, football or hockey. The Pistons are excited he picked hockey and are thrilled for Smith and his family.
“I’m extremely proud of and excited for Cole and the opportunity that lies ahead for him,” said Pistons Head Coach and General Manager Paul Dyck. “He is one of the hardest working players on the ice and in the gym that I have ever coached. He has earned this commitment. This is a great day for Cole and his family as well as for our program.”
It was no coincidence that Smith chose to play his junior hockey in Steinbach. He heard rumblings while playing high school hockey in Brainerd that there were a lot of good things going on in Southeastern Manitoba. It also didn’t hurt that Cole’s uncle Sandy is good friends with the Pistons’ lead man.
“I had great confidence in Head Coach Paul, he is known throughout college hockey and professional hockey as a great coach,” Smith said about his leading factor in choosing the Pistons.
Smith added that other players should put the Manitoba Junior Hockey League high on their list of places to consider when wanting to further their advancement in hockey.
“I don’t think it gets any better than Steinbach in this league,” he said. “The college coaches told me that what I’m learning in Steinbach is very comparable to what they are teaching at the college level. If you’re thinking about coming here and they give you a spot, you have to take it.”
Now that Smith has cleared the uncertainty about next year, he has one thing on his to-do list. “It’s been quite a relief,” he said. “I need to now go win a championship.”
The entire Steinbach Pistons organization want to wish Cole Smith all the best as he continues to pursue his goals on and off the ice.