RoughRiders grad King wraps NCAA career, stays on ice with Finland pro hockey contract
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Cory King finished his NCAA career this past spring at Chatham University, a Division III school in Pittsburgh.
The last few months have seen the New Mexico native and Rocky Mountain RoughRiders standout graduate with a degree in Business Management and sign a professional hockey contract with the HC Giants program in Finland.
“My expectation for next season is to prove myself and show that from being from New Mexico isn’t something to look down on,” said King, who played 18U AAA for the RoughRiders in 2014-15. “I want to prove that I belong in good leagues and that I have the ability to play at a high level. Mostly, I want to prove to myself that the hours of dedication and hard work paid off while still developing to become the best player I can be.”
Over his four seasons at Chatham, King recorded 14 goals and 41 points in 84 games. He also served as an alternate captain as a senior in 2020-21.
Looking back, King said playing for the RoughRiders helped him realize he had the talent to play at the NCAA level.
“When I started playing AAA hockey in Colorado, my coach was Doug Smail, who played in the NHL for 13 seasons,” King said. “He will always be the closest coach I ever had as he trusted me and kept improving my game every day. He sat me down one day and talked about my future and he told me that I can go really far in hockey as long as I keep being engaged and keep having the love for the game like I did when playing for him.”
It was memories like those that King has relished since leaving his Albuquerque home to follow his dreams on the ice.
“Hockey is a sport where no matter where you go, you’re accepted as family,” said King. “You get to meet so many new people that now are considered family, whether that being billet families or the kids you meet on your AAA, junior or college teams that become like brothers to you. I believe the camaraderie that you go through winning a state championship, a junior championship or making the playoffs for the first time in school history are things that I will cherish forever.”
King said he has always had a full cast of positive influences off the ice.
“The biggest influence has always been my family,” King said. “They have given me the opportunity and sacrificed to give me the opportunity to chase my dreams. My parents are my No. 1 supporters and have always pushed me to be the best person and athlete I could possibly be, and I will forever be grateful for them.”
Growing up, King remembered his favorite player as former Colorado Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay.
“I don’t know why, but I really liked his game,” laughed King. “But then Alex Ovechkin entered the league and I admired to play like him with his physically and the ability to score at a high rate. Mostly, I loved how passionate he is with the game the willingness to do whatever to win while being more excited for a teammate to score than himself.”
Now 25, King feels he can offer advice for the younger generation of hockey players.
“The biggest piece of advice for all young hockey players is to make sure you’re having fun and to ask a lot of questions,” said King. “All young athletes have different aspirations growing up and I think especially for kids in New Mexico, make sure if hockey is something you truly want to pursue then talk with your parents once you start getting older and decide if you’re getting the right development.
“I think you just need to ask a lot of questions when you’re young and work with your coaches to be the best player you can become and to, most importantly, have fun and be happy with what you’re doing.”
— Matt Mackinder
(July 8, 2021)