University of Saskatchewan hockey goaltender Jordon Cooke was speechless when he was asked to join the roster for Team Canada at the 90th Spengler Cup. Cooke was in Montreal playing with the U Sports All-Stars against Canada’s World Junior exhibition roster when he found out Hockey Canada was interested.
“I was pulled aside by Hockey Canada, actually Scott Salmond, [vice-president of hockey operations with Hockey Canada], brought up the Spengler Cup and how they needed another goalie and how they were very interested in me,” Cooke said.
The Spengler Cup is often regarded as the oldest invitational ice hockey tournament in the world, dating back to 1923. It was created to encourage friendly competition between nations who fought on opposing sides during the First World War. The traditional tournament is hosted each year by Swiss team HC Davos in Davos, Switzerland, between Christmas and lNew Year’s Day. This year’s tournament was made of up teams from Russia, Switzerland, Belarus, Czech Republic and Canada.
Cooke was the first Canada West player to participate in the tournament in decades. He was selected as the third goalie for Team Canada, alongside Zachary Fucale and Drew MacIntyre.
Even though Cooke didn’t spend any time on the ice, his overall experience was still something he will never forget.
“[It was] unbelievable. Just being over there and seeing the culture behind the sport — all the excitement that the fans put into the game, it’s a lot different than North America. To be named to the roster, and get that experience to go over and take part in the prestigious tournament, is something I’ll never forget,” Cooke said.
If the selection to Team Canada wasn’t enough, Cooke got to raise the Spengler Cup trophy as Team Canada defended its title, defeating HC Lugano 5-2 on Dec. 31.
“[My most memorable experience] was when we won. We were a guest team. We played against a Swiss team. All the fans stayed and watched and didn’t leave until we left the ice,” Cooke said.
Winning the Spengler Cup is another accolade to add to his name, which includes last year’s U Sports Goalie of the Year and the 2016 CanWest championship with the Huskies.
Many U Sports players often see university hockey as an end to their career. This is not the case for Cooke, who aspires to pursue a professional career following his time with the Huskies. The invitation to the Spengler Cup, made up of teams with professional rosters — including some former NHL players — is inspiring for Cooke.
“I think that gave me another perspective that someone’s always watching and I hope it opens up a door down the road. First, I want to finish up my degree here and win a national title,” Cooke said.
Cooke is having a stellar year in net with the Huskies. He ranks second among CanWest goalies with a 0.933 save percentage, while leading the league with four shutouts and 19 wins.
The commerce major returns to a Huskies hockey team that has won six straight games, all against top teams in the CanWest division. With the second half of the season underway, the Huskies sit atop the CanWest standings and are ranked second in the country.
The next chance to catch the Huskies in action on home ice is against the University of Regina Cougars on Friday, Jan. 27. Puck drops at 7 p.m. at Rutherford Arena.
Photo: Caitlin Taylor