Eagles goalie Smith uses USPHL as springboard to NCAA Division III Finlandia
“It’s been a very long journey to get to college hockey, from adversity through different injuries my first two years of juniors, and a great playoff run with the Northern Colorado Eagles,” reminisced Brendan Smith.
The goaltender will get to finally realize his dream of playing college hockey, inking a commitment to NCAA Division III Finlandia University for next season.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity and to have good experiences with my teammates and coaches,” he said.
It’s been a long, winding journey for Smith. The Alexandria, Va., product didn’t grow up in a traditional hockey hotbed, which made the commitment from his family that much more impactful.
“My mom sacrificed so much. Taking me to hockey at 5 a.m., traveling up and down the East Coast every weekend for tournaments and showcases,” he reflected.
The goaltender spent his first two seasons close to home with the Potomac Patriots and then made his way to the Eagles midway through the 2021-22 season. It was the first time that the goaltender had played away from the East Coast.
“When I got to Colorado, I was nervous going into this new environment. With my first steps into my billet house, meeting the Nation family and my billet brother (Alex) Bedard, I was completely welcomed. Every day was something new and one of the best experiences of my life,” Smith recalled.
“I was welcomed with open arms by everyone on the team, had great support from my goalie partners, great friends, and some of the best coaching I could have ever asked for. If I needed help with anything, I always had people to ask.”
Smith started 12 games, finished with a 7-4-0 record, 2.54 GAA, and .912 save percentage. His addition to the squad in early November helped the Eagles’ playoff run down the stretch and proved to be a key stabilizing addition for NoCo.
“Smitty was a great addition to our organization both on and off the ice. He has stayed patient through the process. He always had a great attitude no matter what the situation was and always put the team first. When he was healthy, he played well and always contributed to the team,” explained Eagles coach-GM Steve Haddon.
Haddon recognized the winding road that it took for Smith to get an opportunity to advance to the college ranks, and couldn’t be happier.
“For him to get the opportunity to play NCAA is well deserved. I know when he set foot in Northern Colorado, it was Smitty’s personal goal to play at the highest level possible. Now that goal has come true, we are all so very proud of him,” said Haddon.
Smith is ready to take the next step and can’t wait to trade in his Eagles sweater for a Lions one.
“Being able to represent Finlandia University will be an amazing experience that every kid that plays hockey dreams of,” he finished.
Entering their tenth season of existence, the Eagles have graduated over 90 players to college commitments in the United States and Canada, as well as professional contracts abroad. Eagles’ alumni dot the hockey landscape, playing in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), Poland, Sweden, and NCAA Division III hockey.
If you are a player that is interested in joining the Eagles organization for the upcoming 2022-23 season, please email Steve Haddon at email@example.com.
Photo/Northern Colorado Eagles
— Northern Colorado Eagles Staff
(July 28, 2022)