Grand Junction native, Thunderbirds grad Cloutier decides on NCAA future with commitment to D-III Lawrence
Carter Cloutier has taken his game to a new level the past two seasons in the NAHL.
Last week, the hard work for the Grand Junction native paid off with a commitment to NCAA D-III Lawrence University, an NCHA school located in Appleton, Wis.
“I first met the coach (Brett Wall) back in October when he came to my game in Chippewa, Wis.,” said Cloutier, playing this season for the Springfield Jr. Blues. “He approached me after the game and said he really liked me and he would love to stay in touch. From there on, we had consistent contact and I eventually went on a visit over New Year’s weekend. What appealed to me about Lawrence was that they have new coaches looking to take the program to next step and they are very passionate about what they are doing, which is exciting for me to be a part of. From a school standpoint, their academics are very high class and I value my education just as much as athletics.
“They do a great job of setting their athletes up for a great career as soon as you graduate. I was talking to several other schools, but the Lawrence coaches did a great job of recruiting and making me feel really wanted and a part of their family, which was very important to me.”
Unsure of a major yet, Cloutier said he is leaning towards something in Business.
Cloutier is currently in his second and final season playing junior hockey in the NAHL and has appeared in 39 games with the Jr. Blues this season, recording nine points (four goals, five assists). He began the 2021-22 season with the Jr. Blues and was traded to the Lone Star Brahmas. He finished the 2021-22 season playing with the Kenai River Brown Bears.
“We think Carter will transition to the NCHA well after spending the majority of his NAHL time in the strong Midwest Division where points are at a premium,” said Wall. “I feel that Carter is the full 200-foot player and person. As the assistant captain in Springfield, he is going to bring leadership experience and a high compete level to our lineup and the classroom here at Lawrence.”
Developing in the NAHL has given Cloutier the opportunity to round out his game to be ready for the college ranks.
“Playing in Springfield and the NAHL has helped me so much because the competition in this league is very high and every day, I feel like I am getting better because of it,” Cloutier said. “My coaches, Tyler Rennette and Todd Pococke, were very important in my development and they gave me a lot of opportunities to succeed. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if it wasn’t for those two.”
Looking ahead, Cloutier wants to achieve great things, both on and off the ice.
“Next year as a freshman, I am looking to be an immediate impact for the team and help us win hockey games,” said Cloutier. “School-wise, I am just excited to get back in a classroom since I haven’t physically been in one since I graduated high school back in 2020. I’ve been taking online classes since then, but I’m excited to meet new people and my professors.”
Prior to playing in the NAHL, Cloutier played youth hockey for the Colorado Thunderbirds, Grand Junction Jr. Mavericks and Glenwood Grizzlies.
— Matt Mackinder
(March 31, 2023)