Smith signs on the dotted line
Spencer Smith put pen to paper recently and made his commitment to the University of Massachusetts official.
The 18-year-old St. Catharines native signed his national letter of intent to attend the NCAA Division 1 school on a full scholarship starting in the fall of 2021.
Smith, who committed to UMASS two years ago, was thrilled to officially seal the deal.
“It’s just amazing,” the former Governor Simcoe student said. “When I first went there, I felt like I was at home. It was awesome and it’s even better to make it official now and to know I am going there 100 per cent and hopefully make an impact there.”
Smith especially appreciates having his future mapped out with so much uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It takes a lot of stress off of everything,” he said. “With everything going on, it’s something positive I can take out of this and hopefully go in there and make a huge impact and finish off this year strong.”
Smith was drafted by the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League in the third round of the 2018 draft, but chose to sign with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the Ontario Junior Hockey League while he weighed his options.
“When I was playing with Buffalo, I had some thoughts about going to the OHL but then this opportunity came and I just stuck it out,” he said. “When I visited UMASS, I knew it was my place. The coaching staff really wanted me there and I thought this would be the best opportunity for me because it gives me a little bit more of an opportunity to grow and become a little bit more of a stronger hockey player.
“I don’t have to rush anything. I don’t have to leave the OHL by 20. I can make the most out of everything and I can play as long as I want.”
Smith joined the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League last season where he collected five goals and nine points in 34 games.
He admitted it was a bit of a culture shock to go from Buffalo to Nebraska.
“The people here love their football,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to expect when I first came here, especially because I heard the football is unreal here and the big top 10 football school is here, but the fans are amazing. I would say they are the best fan base in the USHL for sure. They are always there through the downs and the highs. They are always supporting us.
“It’s a great hockey community for sure.”
The Stars recently played their first game of the season before news came that their next several home games have been postponed due to the pandemic.
“We’re only playing road games so it’s one game every two weeks which sucks but you have to take the positive out of it. At least we’re playing and other leagues have canceled their years or are postponing until a later date,” Smith said.
Smith plans to return home when the Stars season is over in the spring.
“I don’t know if this (COVID) is going to clear up or not. If it does clear up I’ll go to UMASS for July and take a couple of classes and train with the team and then hang out with the family in August and then go back and get down to business,” he said.
Smith, who played in 10 playoff games for the St. Catharines Falcons in the spring of 2018 after his season with the Niagara North Stars came to a conclusion, can’t believe how quickly the time has flown in the last couple of seasons.
“It felt like yesterday I was playing in the playoffs for the Falcons and just starting up with Buffalo,” he said. “Everything has been going by so fast and coming so quickly. It’s crazy to think just three years ago I was getting drafted to the OHL and now I’m playing in the USHL with a college scholarship.”
Smith, who plans to study business, realizes once he does get to UMASS, he will need to prove himself all over again.
“It’s all on me know. I have to make the most of my opportunity and prove to them that I deserve it.”
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