FRASER, Mich. – In a sense, Spencer Graham had to leave home to go home.
After two seasons with the NA3HL’s Metro Jets, the Cadillac, Mich., native will start his college career this fall at Aquinas College, an ACHA school located in Grandville, just about 90 minutes from Cadillac.
Fraser is just a shade over three hours from Cadillac.
Graham said he started talking to Aquinas during the 2014-15 season, his rookie year with Metro.
“We each had interest in the other and I stayed in contact with them since,” Graham said. “They knew I planned on playing out my last season of junior eligibility, so they kept up with me through this past season as well. I know that the program has been growing each year for some time now. Through high school, I would see the team play occasionally and I had a few teammates go to play for them, which helped me learn the great reputation the team has. They recently moved to new facilities as well.”
Former Jets teammate Tyler Layle, who manned the blue line in 2014-15, will be returning to Aquinas and was recently named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year.
“Over the years, I've made a lot of friends in hockey and it's definitely a plus to reunite with some former teammates, especially my friend Tyler Layle,” said Graham. “We were roommates last year and I'm really excited to be able to play with him again.”
Entering the Pre-Engineering program at Aquinas, Graham added that his two seasons with the Jets finally paid off with his commitment this week.
“My two years at Metro have helped me significantly, both on and off the ice,” Graham said. “I think I matured a lot in the way I play and think the game. The coaching at Metro really put me in the best environment for me to develop into a smarter and stronger player. I always had thought I would be a college-caliber player because I knew that was what I wanted. However, I also knew I would have to put in a lot of work and put myself in the right position to make it happen, so I'm very thankful to have developed with the Jets for two years.”
This past year, Graham, who turned 20 in late November, skated in 27 games with two goals among eight points. His rookie season, he contributed four assists in 25 contests.
“This past season had some ups and downs for me that were difficult at times, but no matter what happened, the bottom line was that I loved being there, I was there for a reason, and I was committed to my teammates,” Graham said.
“We would like to wish Spence nothing but the best of luck and congratulate him on his decision,” added Metro coach-GM Justin Quenneville. “He has come a long way the two years here with the Jets and was always one of the hardest workers every time he stepped on the ice. His energy and speed he will bring to the college game will benefit him, but the biggest thing about Spence that Aquinas will get is the fact that he is one of the best character kids you can have on your team."
To prepare for next season, Graham said this summer ahead will be “a pretty busy one.”
“I'm starting summer training and getting a job soon, which is challenging to balance together, but I know that the hard work will pay off and make for a great next season and school year,” he said.
Stay tuned as more Jets college commitments will be announced in the coming days.