Saskatoon – Four outstanding contributors from last season’s University of Saskatchewan Huskie men’s hockey team will head across the Atlantic Ocean to play professionally after excelling both on the ice and in the classroom throughout their time in Saskatoon.
Holding a combined 19 years of experience in the Green and White of the Huskies: Jordon Cooke, Connor Cox, Kendall McFaull and Josh Roach will now embark upon their professional careers with an eye towards life after hockey.
“Those guys have been the core of our team for the last few years,” said Huskie head coach Dave Adolph. “The character that they have shown on and off the ice is reflected in not only their professional contracts, but also the degrees that they are taking with them.”
Captain of the Huskies for four of his five seasons with the team, McFaull will now join the Belfast Giants of the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) which has teams in Wales, England and Scotland.
A five-time Canada West All-Star and the 2017-18 winner of the U SPORTS Student-Athlete Community Service Award - in part for his outstanding 88 per cent average during his final academic year – McFaull graduated from Saskatchewan with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
“I think it is extremely important to have a degree going into professional hockey,” said McFaull. “It gives you something to fall back on if hockey doesn’t work out. It was a lesson I learned when I spent a few months in the American Hockey League.
“I saw and talked to many guys that were career minor leaguers that hadn’t made enough money to fully retire after hockey, and they weren’t sure what they were going to do to support their families.”
Originally from Rosetown, Sask. McFaull spent five years with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League (WHL) and was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 National Hockey League entry draft by the now defunct Atlanta Thrashers.
“For me having a degree is a sense of security and allows me to not have to solely rely on hockey. I could use my degree a year from now, or 5-10 years from now, the choice is up to me,” said McFaull.
Joining McFaull in Belfast is another five-year veteran of the Huskies, forward Josh Roach.
The 2017-18 Canada West Sportsmanship and Ability Award winner, Roach recorded 37 points in his final year as a Huskie and was also named both a conference first team All-Star as well as a U SPORTS second team All-Canadian.
Roach graduated with a degree in Education and is the lone Huskie on this list to have not played in the WHL, instead spending four years in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League split between the Humboldt Broncos and the Flin Flon Bombers.
Also getting set to play in the EIHL is Connor Cox, who earned a Business degree with a major in Finance during the five years he spent playing with the Huskies.
“I found it very important to finish with a degree before deciding on going to professional hockey,” said Cox. “When the day comes that I can no longer play hockey, I will always have my degree behind me with career options to look forward to.”
Cox will ply his trade for the Dundee Stars and will join the Scottish side after playing in over 140 games and scoring 56 points as a defenceman in his university career.
Originally from Saskatoon, Cox played for the Moose Jaw Warriors, Saskatoon Blades and the Everett Silvertips in his major junior career.
After a four-year stint with the Huskies that saw him post arguably one of the best careers in Canada West history, goalie Jordon Cooke has signed a contract with Gap Rapaces of Ligue Magnus, the top professional league in France.
The three-time Canada West and two-time U SPORTS Goalie of the Year Award winner recorded 59 victories in his time in Saskatoon, the second-most in the 109-year history of the Huskie men’s hockey program.
A graduate of the College of Arts and Science with a major in Economics, Cooke was also the 2015-16 and 2016-17 University of Saskatchewan Male Athlete of the Year.
“We can’t play hockey forever, so obtaining a degree allows us to now fulfill a childhood dream of playing professional hockey with some security, a degree, for when we retire from hockey and enter another career,” said Cooke.