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Grand Forks native Cole Spicer commits to Minnesota Duluth

Spicer was originally committed to UND but re-opened his recruitment last month.

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Grand Forks native Cole Spicer skates in a game for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program.
Rena Laverty / USA Hockey's NTDP
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DULUTH, Minn. — Minnesota Duluth received a late commitment for the 2022-23 season on Wednesday from Cole Spicer, a 17-year-old center and potential 2022 NHL Draft prospect.

The Grand Forks native decommitted from UND earlier this month after the Fighting Hawks asked him to play junior hockey in 2022-23 before coming to campus in the fall of 2023. Spicer declined and asked to be released from his National Letter of Intent, so he could attend college this fall.

UND, which has been managing a logjam of forwards for next season, granted the release.

Now Spicer, who doesn’t turn 18 until June, is heading to one of the Fighting Hawks’ biggest rivals over the past decade in Minnesota Duluth, an NCHC foe that is coached by UND alum, Scott Sandelin.

Spicer said the Bulldogs were among his top two choices when he originally committed to UND as a freshman at Grand Forks Central.

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“It’s never easy leaving your home team, the team you grew up watching, but I just had to do what was best for my hockey development,” Spicer said. “I still have a ton of respect for Brad Berry and their coaching staff. They’re great people, nothing but respect for them. I just had to do what’s best for me and I think Duluth is what’s best.”

Spicer just completed his second season with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, where he played alongside another incoming Minnesota Duluth freshman forward, Isaac Howard.

Spicer finished with 20 goals and 39 points in 58 games, including three goals and two assists at the IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship in Germany last month.

Spicer and Howard, who helped the Americans win silver at the event, are both considered prospects for this summer’s NHL Draft, as is incoming Bulldogs freshman defenseman Aiden Dubinsky. While Howard is projected to go in the first round, Spicer and Dubinsky are projected to go in the later rounds.

Spicer called Howard “one of my best friends,” having played with him prior to joining the NTDP.

“Him and I have gotten very close over the last couple years," Spicer said. "He’s always joking around and egging me on. We’ve been such good friends the last couple years. Going to college with him, playing with him, is a dream come true.”

Adding Spicer to an ever-growing list, Sandelin is now set to bring in 10 freshmen in 2022-23, matching the amount he added to the roster in 2017-18. Minnesota Duluth also has two transfers committed in Maine junior goaltender Matthew Thiessen and Miami senior defenseman Derek Daschke.

UND lost just three forwards in the offseason — fifth-year senior Connor Ford, fourth-year senior Ashton Calder and third-year winger Brendan Budy.

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The Fighting Hawks are planning to bring in four forwards — Carolina Hurricanes draft pick Jackson Blake, Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Owen McLaughlin and draft-eligibles Dylan James and Ben Strinden.

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Cole Spicer (7) played for Grand Forks Central High School before joining the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.
Nick Nelson / File / Grand Forks Herald

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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