Colorado Rubber

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Jaguars, Gators alum, Thornton native Fricke anxious for return in ’24-25 to USPHL’s Kernels


The 2023-24 USPHL season hasn’t even been over for 10 days, but Nate Fricke has already signed to return to the Battle Creek Kernels for his third season with the club.

Fricke, a Thornton native, has been with the Michigan-based Kernels since the team started as an expansion franchise with the 2022-23 season.

“I actually got in contact with Battle Creek through my advisor and I was able to meet my coach Triston Jensen at the CCM Showcase and was given the amazing opportunity to go play in Battle Creek,” said Fricke. “I started my career with a brand-new junior team that took a chance on me, so I see no reason not to stay with them.

“There are plenty of positives playing in Battle Creek, but the biggest one in my opinion is the support from the community. The turnout to every game is amazing and I feel they are behind us every step of the way. I’m not going to say living so far from home has been the easiest thing, but I have been lucky to have a great billet family to make the transition as seamless as possible.”

Back home, Fricke said he played several sports growing up, but hockey was the one that stood out over the rest.

“My dad had played hockey when he was a kid, so I think that had some influence,” Fricke said. “Having the Avalanche so close was definitely a cool thing to have. I remember a few times a couple of the players showed up to practices. My most fond memory was having Marek Svatos come and skate with us.”

Growing up, Fricke played for the Hyland Hills Jaguars and stuck with them for most of his youth career up until high school where he played for the Standley Lake Gators.

“Throughout those years, there have been three coaches that stick out more than others – Chance Creger Tyson Davis and Chris Rose,” said Fricke. “All three of them have been the biggest influence on my hockey career, having each of them coach me multiple times on different teams.

“I started playing hockey at the age of four and the entire time I was playing out of the Promenade. That place will always be my second home. It’s where I learned to skate and where I scored my first goal. There are so many memories I won’t forget anytime soon.”

Looking forward, Fricke said he can’t wait to see what next season and beyond holds.

“This next season, I am hoping to help the team improve off of last season,” Fricke said. “There are a lot of positives in the room, and I am excited to see what we can do. After next year, I am planning on playing at the collegiate level. I’m not exactly sure where yet, but I’m sure with time I’ll find the right fit.”

Photo/Kaitlynn Felmeden

— Matt Mackinder

(April 4, 2024)

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