The NHL had a vision to build hockey in non-traditional markets when they originally expanded into California. To say that it has worked is an understatement. With successful franchises in non-traditional hockey markets such as California, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and even Las Vegas, hockey’s popularity has never been higher. Now, every year at the NHL Entry Draft you hear players being drafted born in these states. One of the most electric non-traditional markets in the league is in Nashville, with the Nashville Predators. Their cup run from 2 years ago put them in the national spotlight and opened up some eyes to how successful hockey really is in the Volunteer State.
One of the byproducts of having a new NHL team in a city is the development of the youth programs. The Nashville Jr. Predators have been around for 10 years now and are helping develop youth hockey players at a great rate. One such player benefitting from the booming hockey in Tennessee is Knoxville, TN native, Drew Spaulding from the Jr. Predators 2005 team. I was able to catch up with Drew to find out more about his hockey career and personal goals!
Team: Nashville Jr. Predators 05
Position: Right Wing
Current season stats: 34gp, 11 goals, 10 assists, 21points
Toughest competition: Anaheim Jr. Ducks ‘05’s
Season Goal: Continue improving my overall game
Career Highlights: 2016 Brickyard Tournament, MVP 2015-2016 Knoxville Ice Bears Assistant Captain, AAA Hockey for the TPH Thunder/Nashville Jr. Predators
Strengths as a player: Driving the net/Skating/Scoring
Needs to work on: Keeping the feet moving at all times, anticipating vs reacting
Type of training to get better as a player: Provision Hockey Academy for hockey and strength training and Intelligym for hockey IQ training
Style of play/NHL comparison: Model myself a physical power forward like Brandon Saad
Favorite NHL Player: Patrick Kane because of his high skill level
Current School: Sacred Heart Middle School
Anticipated High School: Catholic High School, Knoxville, TN
Summer Showcase 2019: Elite Edge Hockey Showcase, Nashville, TN, June 2019
Hope to accomplish at the High School level: Graduate top of my class, play high-level junior hockey
Ideal College(s): Arizona State University and Boston College
Interests besides hockey: Basketball and Golf
Favorite Food: Grapes
Favorite Movie: Creed
Favorite School Subject: Social Studies
Dream Job: Hockey Player
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