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 Minot Minotauros

Small and Spencer Reunited in Minot

March 21, 2024 - North American Hockey League (NAHL)
Minot Minotauros News Release

Several players and operations staff have been from Illinois, particularly the greater Chicagoland area, throughout the history of the Minot Minotauros. Current Captain Trevor Stachowiak grew up in suburban Glenco, IL. Defenseman Jacob Ingstrup grew up in Lombard, IL, a western suburb near the Windy City. Director of Operations and the broadcast voice of the Tauros Ken Oda is a native of Chicago, while Graphic Designer Sebastian Machado is also from there.

Minot also boasts forwards John Small and Ian Spencer, who hail from Orland Park and Mokena, respectively, suburbs just 10 minutes apart. These two players, now linemates for the Tauros, share a history that traces back to their childhood in the Chicago area, where they played hockey together for local teams. According to Spencer, "We played AAA with the Chicago Fury for about six years from nine or 10 to 15 years old,".

While growing up playing with the Fury, the two Tauros became close friends. "Playing hockey over the years, we became closer. I think what makes us really good buddies is that for most of our hockey trips, we would travel together. So we'd go out to eat together and stay in the same hotel rooms, and we were always close. I think that created a lot of memories that we have to this day that we always bring up," Small stated.

While playing AAA, Darren McCluskey was one of their coaches with the Fury. They also helped out at McCluskey's goalie school. "They were shooters at my goalie school for many years. Johnny was a laid-back kid who did not talk much but was very respectable. Ian was a little bit more outgoing and equally respectable. Both were funny kids in different ways," said the coach.

When McCluskey coached Small and Spencer, he remembers them as, "They brought high-end speed, good scoring touch, and both were great team guys on and off the ice. The boys would do whatever it took to win games. They did the work on and off the ice."

After their tenure with the AAA team, the two friends pursued different avenues before crossing paths again in Minot. Small opted to enroll at South Kent School, a prep school in Connecticut, where he recorded 21 goals and 31 assists in 37 games. Following that season, he returned to the Chicago Fury for his 18U year. Spencer ventured to Minnesota to attend Shattuck St. Mary's. During his final season with the school's 18U prep team, he netted 13 goals and added 45 assists across 51 contests.

After a season of junior for Small with the Langley Rivermen in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League, him and Spencer found themselves reunited in Minot. "Spence was tendered there originally, so we knew he was going there," Small recalled. "Yeah, I was kind of looking for a new team after my last year, and I spent some time talking to Spence. I then talked to Cody, who set me up to come to the main camp. I fell in love with Minot and decided to play there," Small explained.

As Tauro's linemates, the two complement each other on the ice, " I feel like we have similar roles, like we both kind of play the same way. But I feel like that also benefits because we know what our next moves will be most of the time. So it helps out wherever we're going on the ice and finding each other," said Spencer.

Off the ice, Small and Spencer, now 20 and 19 years old respectively, spend their summers in Chicago and cherish the time spent together. "When I'm home, we've been to a couple of concerts together, you know, just always go out to eat with all the buddies," Spencer concluded, highlighting the enduring bond they share beyond the rink.

John Small and Ian Spencer's journey from childhood teammates to linemates with the Tauros exemplifies the enduring bonds forged through hockey. Their shared experiences with the Chicago Fury have shaped their hockey careers and deepened their friendship. Their partnership on the ice reflects their camaraderie as they continue to play alongside each other in Minot. Through their journey, Small and Spencer show the unifying power of hockey, bridging distances and fostering lifelong connections.

by: Andrew Lennox,

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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