ST. CLOUD, Minn. — This was not the offseason that Aidan Spellacy had any remote thought that would be in store for him.
Spellacy, a 23-year-old from Lakewood, Ohio, had every intention to return to Robert Morris University, which is in Moon Township, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh. Spellacy, a center, was an assistant captain for the Colonials and was planning on adding a minor to his marketing major for his senior year.
Then on May 26, the university announced that it was cutting its men's and women's hockey programs.
"We got an email that said that we needed to be on a Zoom call in 25 minutes that we all had to be on and we did not know much about what it was about," he said. "I thought it was about us getting a new rink or COVID vaccinations. Then they dropped that on us, that they were doing away with the programs. It was maybe 10 minutes, if not less.
"It was a tough pill to swallow."
After the dust settled, Spellacy decided to enter the transfer portal and to finish his degree in marketing with some summer courses.
He ended up getting contacted by St. Cloud State men's hockey head coach Brett Larson. This past weekend, Spellacy and his dad, Kevin, visited the university campus and he accepted an offer to join the Huskies in the fall.
"The facility was awesome," he said of the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. "I love the college town feel and it's really a unique spot. Seeing the facility and the downtown area and the whole college feel ... it attracted me a lot.
"I was just kind of looking for a place to step in and contribute. I was also looking for a place that was in a position to win and, obviously, St. Cloud is for sure. I was looking for a place to have some kind of impact and contribute in any way possible to a winning culture."
Last season, the Huskies were 20-11-0, took second in the NCHC in the regular season, second in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff and then took second in the NCAA Division I tournament. Because the NCAA is granting players who played last season another season of eligibility, the Huskies will have nearly all of its team returning from last season.
At forward, St. Cloud State lost center Will Hammer (graduation) and right wing Jared Cockrell (pro contract) both decided not to return for another season after playing together the majority of the season on the same line. Mason Salquist, a 21-year-old forward from Grand Forks, N.D., was the lone new forward signed for the 2021-22 season before Spellacy. Salquist played the last two seasons in juniors for the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League.
Hammer had three goals, nine points, 15 blocked shots, six penalty minutes and was a plus-3 in 31 games played last season. He won 56.4 percent (265-205) of his faceoffs, which was tied for 36th in Division I among centers with 100 or more faceoffs.
Spellacy had five goals, 11 points, 17 blocked shots, six penalty minutes and was a minus-3 in 24 games for Robert Morris last season, playing primarily on the third line and killing penalties. He won 57.5 percent (267-197) of his faceoffs, which tied for 18th nationally.
In 91 games over three seasons with Robert Morris, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Spellacy had 16 goals, 33 points, 53 penalty minutes, 70 blocked shots, was a minus-11 and won 52.6 percent (709-638) of his faceoffs.
"I'm a 200-foot guy, killed penalties, saw some power-play time and I was an assistant captain (last season), so I had a leadership role," Spellacy said. "I was one of the older guys who provided some leadership and contributes.
"I'm a reliable center, win draws ... Honestly, any impact I can have in any role is kind what I'm looking to fill and help the team."
NAHL, Ohio high school player
Before getting to Robert Morris, Spellacy grew up in Lakewood, Ohio, which is about a 15-minute drive to the west of Cleveland. He grew up in a hockey family.
"I'm the youngest of four boys and all three of my older brothers played hockey, my dad played, my uncles played ... I guess you could say I didn't have a choice," he said with a laugh. "I got put on skates at a young age and fell in love with the game."
There are more than 80 boys hockey teams in the state that play in the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which has sanctioned the sport since 1978. Spellacy played three seasons for St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland and had 154 points in 117 career games.
His sophomore season (2013-14), he played in a game that registered national news. St. Ignatius, which finished 30-4-6 that season, and Sylvania Northview played a seven overtime state championship game that ended up being declared a 1-1 tie.
"We had like 85 shots or something crazy like that and their goalie had the game of his life and stood on his head," Spellacy said. "We kept going back to the locker room and saying, 'How is one of these not falling in?'"
In Ohio, the state tournament games have 15-minute periods, overtime periods are eight minutes, the games are televised and played at Nationwide Arena, the home of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.
His senior season, Spellacy helped St. Ignatius win another state title. After graduating, he went to a tryout camp and made the Lone Star Brahmas junior team of the North American Hockey League. He had 20 points and 61 penalty minutes in 65 games and helped the Brahmas win the Robertson Cup.
His second season with Lone Star, he had 32 points and 30 penalty minutes in 68 games, played in the NAHL Prospects Game and ended up committing to Robert Morris. After two losing seasons with the Colonials, he helped Robert Morris to a 15-9-0 record and third place in the 11-team Atlantic Hockey conference.
Now, he's looking forward to trying to help the Huskies win their first national title.
"I'm really excited to get up there and meet everyone and get the ball rolling," he said.
Spellacy, who has a cumulative grade-point average of 3.88, plans to work on a Master of Business Administration degree at St. Cloud State.
3 men, 6 women named All-America scholars
St. Cloud State men's players Chase Brand, Kevin Fitzgerald and Thomas Rocco and women's players Allie Cornelius, Emma Gentry, Allison Green, Laura Kluge, Emma Polusny and Kenzie Wylie have been named Krampade All-American Scholars by the American Hockey Coaches Association. To be eligible, players must have a 3.6 grade-point average or better for each semester of the last school year.
- Huskies Hockey Insider podcast: Chase Brand on his 1st goal of the season, the top golfers on the team are, growing up in Nevis, his athletic family and more
- Huskies Hockey Insider podcast: Goalie Emma Polusny on the Covid Cup, new teammates, breaking up quarantine monotony
- Kevin Fitzgerald talks about all the jobs he's had at SCSU, his internship, love of baseball, cross country junior hockey career and more
NHL Draft this weekend
The NHL Entry Draft will be held virtually this weekend from a studio in New Jersey, and players will appear on-screen rather than in person. The first round begins at 7 p.m. Friday (ESPN2) and the second through seventh rounds will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday (NHL Network).
The Huskies have two recruits who could get drafted. Defenseman Jack Peart, the reigning Mr. Hockey in the state of Minnesota, is ranked No. 27 among North American skaters eligible for the draft by NHL Central Scouting. The 5-foot-11, 186-pound 18-year-old from Grand Rapids led his high school team in scoring and also helped the Fargo Force reach the United States Hockey League Clark Cup Finals. In mock drafts, he has been listed as either a late first round or early second round pick.
Peart has signed to join the Huskies this fall.
The other St. Cloud State recruit who is on the draft radar is a recent verbal commit. Martins Lavins is a 6-foot, 178-pound center from Riga, Latvia, and is ranked 101st among international skaters eligible for the draft. Lavins had 23 points and 22 penalty minutes in 34 games played in junior hockey last season in Latvia. He played for the Latvian Under-18 team at the IIHF World Championships. Lavins is expected to play next season in juniors for Cedar Rapids of the United States Hockey League.
Recruit playing for Team USA
Another St. Cloud State recruit, forward Jonah Aegerter, has been selected to play for Under-18 Team USA in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. Aegerter, a 5-9., 154-pound 17-year-old from Janesville, Wis., is one of 13 forwards on the Team USA roster.
Aegerter, who is from Janesville, Wis., had 11 points, six penalty minutes and was a minus-15 in 34 games for the Janesville Jets of the NAHL last season in his first season of juniors. The Hlinka Gretzky Cup will be held Aug. 2-7.