This year I started my Junior hockey career with the Humboldt Broncos. After lots of consideration I felt that this was the best fit for me as I felt Humboldt was one of the few teams that genuinely appreciated me as a hockey player, and a person from the beginning. Leaving home for the first time and starting my junior hockey career was a bit scary at first, and obviously with the tragedy that had occurred with Humboldt I knew that was going to be a unique situation, and I didn’t know what to expect, but I was happy to become apart of the community of Humboldt.

Going into pre-season as a rookie I knew I had to earn everything, nothing was going to be given to me. Instead of just showing up to camp, going through the motions and eventually earning a spot in the lineup, I promised myself to go into camp and take a top six spot. This is exactly what I did. I was given a great opportunity to play with two 20 year olds right out of the gate. I am so thankful for that opportunity as I learned so much from them and they really helped my development as I learned to adjust to the new lifestyle playing junior hockey. I was really starting to get comfortable, started to really feel like I belonged in Humboldt. My billet family was fantastic, the entire community was so warm and welcoming, they truly supported our team, and our players. I was also fortunate enough to meet some unbelievable guys in Humboldt. Our team truly was just that, a team. We were always with each other away from the rink, and very early on this felt like an incredibly special group.  Just as I was starting to get the nerves out, started to play up to my potential…

I was traded.

I was playing on the top line as a rookie, playing well, and producing, and we were winning so the thought of a trade 17 games into my junior career, never really crossed my mind. But there we were, I was traded from the first place Broncos to the Melville Millionaires, who were in last place at the time.

When I had learned I was traded I went into shock, I didn’t know what to do or say. I was on the phone all day with my parents, previous coaches and really just everyone who had supported me over my years. I tried to really just wrap my head around what had just happened. I didn’t know what to do.  I’ve loved the game of hockey my entire life, but for the first time I wasn’t sure. I didn’t understand why this had happened, what did I do wrong. Needless to say, my confidence had sunk to an all-time low.

It took some time, but after lot of discussions with different people close to me, I realized this is junior hockey, these things do happen. It’s nothing more than a little bump in the road, if that’s how I choose to handle this. I think the biggest thing that helped me get through this bump in the road, was all of the adversity I have had to overcome in my hockey career. I was cut from Bantam AA my first year bantam, I played community hockey. Then, I didn’t make Bantam AAA in my second year, so I then played Bantam AA. Then I failed to make Midget AAA in my 16 year old year and then played Midget AA. Finally, in my final season of minor hockey I made the Midget AAA team but despite having a successful season, I thought. I never really had any interest from junior A teams. I didn’t skate well enough, or was just “meh”. I thought to myself… If I can get through all of that, then I can  overcome this adversity.

That’s exactly what I did. I went to Melville with an opened mind, and wanted to help become a part of the solution, and turn the season around. I got another opportunity to play with two great 20 year old players, and our line has since really taken off together. I’ve earned the opportunity to play a lot of minutes, be put in key situations, and with that we are back in the mix working towards a playoff spot.

So what I thought was the worst thing that could have happened to me in my junior career, actually turned out to be a great opportunity that I am grateful for. I am playing the best hockey I have ever played, I have more confidence now than ever and I am having so much fun playing hockey again with some great guys that I have met here. Along with my success, I was selected to play in the SJHL/MJHL showcase, which was an incredible event that I was thrilled to be apart of it. My goal since I was 12 years old playing community hockey was to play NCAA D-1, and I feel like I am getting closer in my pursuit of that dream.

So, all in all. I truly believe that this trade was actually a blessing in disguise. I can’t thank the people around me enough who helped walk me through this, and said to have an open mind, go and see what happens in Melville, maybe it will be good. It has been. The biggest thing I can pass along to any young player reading this is worry about what you can control. Don’t worry about all the other things that come with hockey, the politics, the constant pressure, etc.  Everyone develops at different times. It took me till 18 to really start peaking and coming into my own. So if you don’t get drafted, or you get cut from a team you wanted to make, yeah you can be mad and you should be, but instead of pouting and complaining, work your ass off on and off the ice and go prove everyone wrong.

I was doubted my whole hockey career and I had to put in a lot of extra work to prove people wrong and it has really helped make me the hockey player and the person I am today. You just have to control what you can control, keep an open mind, block out all of the extra noise, and I truly believe that will become a great stepping stone for success in anyone’s career.


Luke Spadafora

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