A 21-year-old hockey player who was born and raised in Yellowknife is heading to the United States to play university hockey in the fall.

“Growing up, I always wanted to play hockey but never really had the opportunity,” said Michael Iatridis.

He didn’t know how to skate until he was 10 years old. Until then, he learned some aspects of the game by following it online and on TV.

Iatridis, a defenceman who’s listed at 6’1”, 194 lbs, said he derived inspiration from watching Jordin Tootoo, a hockey player from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. He also admired one of his cousins who grew up playing hockey and was really good at the sport.

“I always wanted to be like that, and he helped me out and getting ready for the first time skating,” Iatridis recalled.

His cousin and neighbor would always play road hockey together, “so I had the fundamentals of hockey, I just didn’t know how to skate,” he said.

Iatridis convinced his parents to sign him up for a hockey tournament, thinking it was floor hockey, but it turned out to be on the ice.

“I felt embarrassed that I didn’t know how to (skate) so it was one of the few things that made me want to learn how to skate,” he said.

He joined CanSkate in Yellowknife and played in the NWT capital for four years until he and his family moved to Edmonton.

He continued improving his skating in Alberta while suiting up for the St. Albert Raiders of the North American Hockey League. After advancing to the Junior A Superior International Junior Hockey’s Red Lake Miners and then the Junior A Northern Ontario Hockey League’s Cochrane Crunch, where he posted three points in 21 games this past season, he hit maximum junior hockey eligibility. That’s when the coach at Calvin University messaged him.

“It was something I can’t pass up on,” he said.

Now Iatridis will be playing for the Calvin Knights in Grand Rapids, MI. The team is Division One in the American College Hockey Association.

As it’s college hockey, he will also be studying. He’s chosen to focus on kinesiology.

“I’ve always just been athletic… it is my whole life. I just can’t see myself doing anything else,” he said, adding that he’d like to be part of sports management or help people rehabilitate from injuries.

But first, “I hope I could keep playing hockey for as long as I can,” Iatridis said.

Playing in the NHL and making a living off of hockey is the ultimate dream.

“But for now, just enjoying the next four years that I have to see where it goes,” he said of his university years ahead.

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