Colorado Rubber

Colorado’s and Utah’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

Thunderbirds, Cherry Creek alum Tauoa taking game to next level, signs tender with NCDC’s Spud Kings


Max Tauoa only played two years of hockey in Colorado, but those two seasons were beneficial to getting the Oklahoma City native on the hockey map.

Playing this season out east for the Atlantic Coast Academy, located in Pittsfield, Mass., Tauoa recently signed an NCDC tender with the Idaho Falls Spud Kings and looks to be a full-time player there next season.

“The assistant coach in Idaho Falls, Josh Rabbani, previously coached here at Atlantic Coast and was able to get eyes on me,” Tauoa said. “They were able to watch me and gave him the green light to offer me a tender agreement. Obviously, what stands out at first are the crowds they draw in. I think it’s really amazing and such a cool atmosphere. I had heard a lot of positive talk about them over the summer at the rinks and when I looked further into it, I was in awe. Once I was offered the tender, I began to ask around as there are two guys on my team who played there and they had nothing but positive things to say. Also, having met Josh and having a positive relationship with him prior to the offer was a key factor. The fact that they’re out west was the cherry on top.

“I’ve heard nothing but awesome things about their overall situation there as far as living and playing, so I’m super excited about that. I’ve seen videos of the crowds they draw in and I’m super pumped to play in front of that audience. It won’t just be fun, but it’ll prepare me for higher levels.”

Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Tauoa said he was introduced to hockey when he was eight years old by neighbors from across the street.

“Being 100% Samoan, it was very unheard of to even step foot on the ice, but once I did, I instantly fell in love with the game,” said Tauoa. “Typically, football or rugby are the sports of choice in our culture, but I liked the fact that I was taking a different route.”

Making the move to Colorado, Tauoa spent the 2020-21 season with the Colorado Thunderbirds’ 14U AAA team and then the 2022-23 season playing high school hockey for Cherry Creek.

“I had two amazing coaches who taught me very different things,” Tauoa said. “When I was with the T-Birds, I played for Phil Patenaude and when I was at Creek, I played for Jeff Mielnicki. Coach Phil really helped elevate my game from a Tier II player into a high-level Tier I defenseman. Phil took me under his wing and helped me play a more mature game. Coach Mel was someone who taught me about life and what it meant to have fun with hockey again.

“These are two amazing people who have impacted my life in a positive way.”

Even in just those two years, Tauoa said he has many memories from his days in Colorado.

“The main thing would be my family coming to watch me play,” said Tauoa. “I love when they’re there supporting me, especially my little brother. But aside from that, I would say just playing with my best friends. There’s a small group of us that talk consistently and are still super close, and to think that we all used to play on the same team is surreal. I loved being on the same bench as them and battling with rival teams like Dallas, Arizona, and even the (Rocky Mountain) RoughRiders. Those were fun times.”

His junior hockey path set, Tauoa has started to focus on his long-yerm future as well.

“I plan on playing NCAA Division I college hockey and ultimately have the goal to play in the National Hockey League,” Tauoa said. “As far as outside of hockey, I want to give back to the Samoan community in some way and introduce more Polynesian kids to the sport.

“Overall, I want to impact the world in a positive way.”

Photo/Cody Houghtling (@codyhoughtling)

— Matt Mackinder

(December 28, 2023)

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