For Wheatridge native Mickel, Niagara commitment the right fit for NCAA Division I future
Cole Mickel had committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Air Force some two years ago, but after exploring other options for his college career, will now head to Niagara University after committing to the Buffalo-area school last month.
A Wheatridge native, Mickel is serving as team captain during his second season skating on the blue line for the NAHL’s Minot Minotauros.
“Our season has been great so far,” Mickel said. “We had a little bit of an adjustment phase at the beginning of the year with Coach (Cody) Campbell coming in the morning of our final pre-season game and four days before the showcase. After we got through that phase, we really started clicking as a team and continue to do so in pursuit of winning the Robertson Cup.”
Campbell, himself a Colorado Springs native, is elated seeing Mickel head to the school where he was a goaltender from 2010-13.
“Niagara is not only getting a dynamic defenseman who has the ability to make an impact immediately when he arrives on campus but more importantly, they are getting a person who will have a seamless transition into Niagara’s culture,” said Campbell. “We are thrilled for Cole. He has grown immensely as a player and a person this season and has become a someone our staff and his teammates know they can count on day in and day out. We look forward to helping Cole continue to develop prior to heading to Niagara.”
Mickel spoke to the process in deciding to play for the Purple Eagles.
“I was previously verbally committed to Air Force but decided I wanted to take a different route with the support of my coach,” said Mickel, who played back home for the Boulder Hockey Club, Colorado Thunderbirds and Rocky Mountain RoughRiders. “After I de-committed, I was fortunate enough to have a great run through the later months of 2021 and through January of 2022. During that stretch, Coach Campbell was working behind the scenes with schools for me and I was able to talk to Niagara a couple of times before I ultimately decided that I wanted to play for their program and continue my education there.
“Niagara not only has a great hockey program, but they have a great education as well that offers me the ability to go into what I want to major in, sports management and business. During my phone calls, they were able to tell me about how many alumni they have that are working in hockey on the management side as well as the agent side. It gave me a really good perspective of what I can see myself doing in the future and following in those alumni’s footsteps.”
Mickel said as of right now, the plan is for him to be a freshman during the 2023-24 season, but that may change depending on if any players decide that they are going to sign professionally or not use their fifth year of NCAA eligibility.
This season in Minot, Mickel has posted nine goals and 22 points over 38 games for the Minotauros.
“My short-term goal for hockey is to win a Robertson Cup here in Minot,” Mickel said. “We haven’t won it as a program before and we have the group here this year to do it. Long term for hockey, I want to be a contributing factor for Niagara every year that I play there, not only on the ice but off the ice as well. I try to hold myself to the highest standards possible in the classroom as well as on the ice, in the weight room, and in the community.”
— Matt Mackinder
(February 3, 2022)