Miniota’s Brad Cole might have wrapped up his professional hockey career in a way he never thought would happen a few short years ago.
The son of Pat and Delbert Cole spent the 2017-2018 hockey season playing in Italy with his young family cheering him on. His wife Stephanie and their two-year-old daughter Anna, made the trip overseas so he could once again play for Rittner Baum. In Italy, the couple’s second child, Charlotte, who is eight months old, was born. Cole greatly enjoyed matching family with hockey and a beautiful country.
“I always wanted to have that experience with my family,” said Cole, who has played parts of three seasons with the team. “I didn’t think it would happen.”
The defenceman, who turned pro in 2007, praised his team for being gracious in making things work for his family. Cole noted that as a hockey player, he often worked only four hours a day so he had plenty of time to enjoy Italy with his family.
“We all got to experience it together,” he said. “Everything worked out awesome.”
After winning the Italy Series A championship with Rittner Baum in 2016, Cole decided to focus on non-hockey interests. He worked as a safety coordinator for a construction company. In the fall, his Italian team asked him to compete in a qualifying tournament it was hosting.
“I kind of thought I was done playing for good. I did miss the competition,” Cole said.
With his help, the team succeeded in qualifying. Cole, who got married that season, returned to Italy to play in the Continental Cup with the squad.
This past season the tough defenceman committed to playing for more of the campaign. The team made it all the way to game seven of the league championship. He had 18 points, including four goals, in 29 games.
Farm and family
That time in Italy with his family might have drawn Cole’s full-time career in pro hockey to a close. He said he’s open to possibly playing in tournaments with the team again. However, Cole is focused on his family and their growing Charis Honey Farms. As well, he is considering playing senior hockey this winter.
A former Western Hockey League player with three teams, including the Saskatoon Blades, which he captained, Cole traveled far and wide during his pro career. He played for eight teams in five countries. A former member of the Calgary Flames organization, he played the majority of three seasons in the American Hockey League – just one step away from the NHL.
Cole also had experiences playing in the ECHL (an AA league in baseball parlance) in such diverse places as Nevada, Alaska, and South Carolina. Overseas, he played in Austria and Slovenia as well as Italy.
The best part of this odyssey?
“It has always been the people that I’ve met. Being immersed in a different culture and a different way of life – that is the best memory of all.”