Lakewood native, Thunderbirds standout Clarke decides to stay in Colorado, take skill set to NCDC with Pueblo in 2023-24
Brody Clarke has made a name for himself the past few years with the Colorado Thunderbirds.
He’s hoping to keep that trend going next season when he suits up for the NCDC’s Pueblo Bulls, a team that is part of the USPHL’s expansion of its NCDC branch, after recently signing a tender agreement with the Bulls.
“I’ve been familiar with the staff at Pueblo for a while,” said Clarke, a Lakewood native. “A few of their coaches were at an Air Force showcase last summer and I was introduced to them there. They reached out to me after a tournament this year and after talking to them, it became clear that there was mutual interest. They watched a few more of our games and offered me a tender after that.
“It’s really exciting. My brother played in the division and had nothing but good things to say about it, so I was super happy to hear that it was moving up to the NCDC. I love the mountain area and being close to home is awesome. Knowing my parents can make a weekend trip down to Pueblo is something that helped sell me. It’s really cool to hopefully be a part of the start of high-level junior hockey out west.”
Clarke noted that with the USPHL being a top producer of college hockey talent, that aspect itself was enough to draw him to the league.
“It’s really appealing,” Clarke said. “With the origins of the league being out east, it always appealed to me, but it never seemed like a place many people I knew played in. With the westward expansion, it’s really exciting. Their league has a good bit of notoriety and knowing its track record of moving kids into college hockey is on par with my goals as a hockey player.”
Growing up, Clarke spent the bulk of his time with the Thunderbirds, including this season, and also played for the Colorado Evolution and Arapahoe Warriors.
“A lot of things stand out about playing for the Thunderbirds, but playing In the Quebec tournament and making the national championship game are two things I’ll never forget,” said Clarke. “Another thing that stands out to me is the friendships I’ve made playing for the Thunderbirds. My past and current teammates are my best friends and growing up alongside them has been the best part of playing hockey. All of my coaches have been amazing at the Thunderbirds. I’ve had a variety of coaches, and every single one has impacted me as a person and helped different aspects of my game.
“I have to say that coach Phil Patenaude this year really gave me an opportunity to showcase my ability and was a major aspect in helping me move onto juniors.”
Going forward, Clarke has his eyes on further advancing his career, both on and off the ice.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing college hockey,” Clarke said. “I hope to play NCAA Division I, and I’m confident Pueblo is a place that can put me in a spot to do so. My short-term goals are to establish myself as a critical player for the team in its first year and continue to learn and appreciate the game. I graduate this year, but my goal was to graduate with straight A’s throughout high school. I’m on pace to do that and after graduation, I hope to continue learning through various classes and eventually, college.
“I’m not sure what the future holds for me but playing juniors has been a goal of mine since I was a kid and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.”
— Matt Mackinder
(March 14, 2023)