Foothills, Thunderbirds star Klee commits to ‘dream school,’ decides on NCAA D-I North Dakota
Off to a strong start with the Colorado Thunderbirds’ 16U AAA team this season, David Klee’s confidence grew this week with a major announcement as the 2005-born Morrison native committed to NCAA Division I North Dakota.
Klee said the decision was a long time coming.
“I had heard about North Dakota’s program but really got to understand the history of it from Karl Goehring while he was coaching with my dad (Ken Klee) in Syracuse,” Klee said. “He had very fond memories of playing there and now has returned as an assistant coach. Luckily, Coach (Brad) Berry was able to watch me play at the USA Hockey National Camp and that kickstarted a conversation that led to many good talks and them coming to watch several of showcases we played in.
“It is a dream school of mine due to the amazing culture and success they have had and the numerous players they have developed and moved onto the next level. I was very impressed with their amazing culture, not to mention the success that they have year after year. The energy around the team and during the games is incredible due to the great fan base.”
Growing up in a hockey family with his father playing in the NHL and two older brothers (Garrett Klee, Northern Michigan University and Mason Klee, Rensselaer) now playing NCAA D-I hockey, the youngest Klee said hockey has been in his life since Day 1.
“Having two older brothers who were playing hockey and a dad that played professionally, I was at the rink all the time and fell in love with the game at a very young age,” said Klee.
Klee was born in Denver during the 2005 NHL lockout and since then, has had a nickname follow him from home to the rink.
“Ever since I was a little baby, my family called me ‘Bugs,’ and I guess it just stuck with me and now is more commonly used than my real name,” laughed Klee. “It’s pretty funny, but I love it, and it’s been with me forever and I don’t see it going away any time soon.”
During his youth hockey days, Klee played for the Foothills Flyers and said one of his biggest highlights with the Flyers was winning the Quebec Qualifier and representing the Colorado Avalanche at the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament. He also played in Syracuse, N.Y., with the Syracuse Nationals and since returning to Colorado has been playing for the Thunderbirds.
“Last year, we had a great team and made a run all the way to the national championship game, which was an amazing experience,” Klee said. “Obviously, my dad has had a huge influence coaching me most of my life and last year, I was fortunate enough to play for David Clarkson. Coach Clarkson taught me a lot about the game and showed me what it would take to play at the next level.
“Both Coach Clarkson and my dad share the belief that being a good person comes first and success will follow, which has shaped me into who I am today.”
Still just 16, Klee said he has short-term and long-term goals in both hockey and away from the rink.
“My goal is to hopefully play in Waterloo (for the USHL’s Blackhawks) this coming year and graduate high school when I am there,” said Klee. “I have been lucky enough to see the road and what it takes due to my older brothers going through it and now playing Division I. They taught me what it takes, and I can’t wait for the process. And long term would be to go into North Dakota and be able to be a difference maker.
“One thing that I loved about their culture was the fact they lived by ‘We want to win national titles, and we want to put guys in the NHL,’ which has been my goal my whole life.”
— Matt Mackinder
(October 21, 2021)