Albuquerque native King developing at NCAA D-III Chatham
Cory King is one of a handful of New Mexico natives skating with NCAA programs this season, playing for the first-year Chatham University team in the Division III United Collegiate Hockey Conference.
King, an Albuquerque native, said it’s been nothing but positives thus far at the Pittsburgh-based school, both on and off the ice.
“Being a new program can be tough, but I think if we keep building as a program and keep implementing what coach (Michael) Callan is teaching us, I think we will be very successful down the road,” said King. “Personally, if I can keep putting in extra work and getting more used to the style of play of college hockey, I feel like I can be very successful for the four years here at Chatham.
“I believe I can go as far as I want to in hockey. I hope to play professionally at the end of my four years at Chatham and I think Coach Callan can help get me there.”
Last season while playing for the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Western States Hockey League, King realized college hockey was closer to reality than a farfetched dream.
“Chatham was a very open and welcoming school with an opportunity to create a new legacy with a new program while receiving a top-notch education,” said King. “It means a lot to me and especially, my family to be a New Mexico kid playing college hockey. It took a lot of sacrifice from my family to help me follow my dream by allowing me to move from the age of 16 to billet to play AAA hockey and juniors to lead me to where I’m today. It’s nice to see the hard work pay off and to hopefully continue to keep inspiring kids from New Mexico who are getting into hockey to keep following their dream.”
Truth be told, hockey has always had its place in the King family.
“My dad (Kevin) was from Michigan and his dad (Frank Smith) got him into hockey where he just played men’s hockey as a goalie, which led my two oldest brothers (Nick and Chris) to pursue hockey,” King said. “Of course, me being the baby, I wanted to do the same as my brothers. I called my grandfather ‘Popi’ and he was my biggest inspiration along with my dad.”
As a youth, King played for Team New Mexico up to the age of 15 before moving to Colorado to play AAA hockey for the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders and former NCAA and NHL player Doug Smail.
“The Outpost Ice Arena was the first rink I ever laced up the skates at the age of three and the first rink where I scored a goal,” said King. “This rink will always be home to me and my family – it’s where it all started.
“Growing up, my dad was my coach for the longest time until Frank Mastrandrea became my coach and I played with his son (Vinny), who became one of my best friends,” said King. “My dad and Frank have had a huge influence on me not only becoming a better hockey player, but teaching me along the way to become a better man. My dad will always be my biggest supporter and someone I continue to look up to every day.”
King also has an idea on how the game can continue to grow and thrive in New Mexico.
“Hockey in New Mexico has plateaued a bit, but I believe if we can keep having camps there and promoting hockey in New Mexico, we can grow it back up to what it once was when I played there,” King said.
Photos/Chatham University Sports Information
— Matt Mackinder
(Jan. 31, 2018)