Sept 25, 2020 | By Zeke Lloyd | Photo by Alli Moon
Chris Wilkie ’20’s time at Colorado College has come to an end, and his transition into the professional world of hockey has begun. While Wilkie had many athletic triumphs during his time here, including the record-breaking feat of 23 goals in 34 games, he also had a great appreciation for the college’s general atmosphere and culture.
“I loved my time at CC, and it was only three years, but it was great,” Wilkie said. Wilkie wanted to find a supportive team, just like the one he had discovered here at CC. After some negotiations with Ottawa that did not lead to a contract, he found himself drawn to the IceHogs. “Chicago was one of the first ones I talked to, obviously a great organization. [I] kinda just focused in on that,” said Wilkie.
Despite spending most of his life in Nebraska, North Dakota, and Colorado, Wilkie is undaunted by this transition to the Midwest. He is actually excited about the move to Illinois. “I like the area of Chicago,” he said. “Never been to Rockford, but I have heard good things about that.” He also feels prepared for the athletic step up: “I am obviously confident in my game. I think it will translate well into a heavier, harder game,” said Wilkie.
While Colorado College’s Division I hockey team maintains a very competitive atmosphere, Wilkie understands the intensity of professional sports. “Expectations are really high, you know, as a first-year. I just want to go in and prove myself,” said Wilkie. But Wilkie has been under pressure before, and if he does demonstrate his ability to play at an elite level, he will have a very bright future in the NHL. He considered the next few years to be potentially very exciting: “[I’m] hopefully going to play a lot this year,” Wilkie said. “It would be nice if the next contract was with the Blackhawks. Not to be too picky, but I would love to stay in the organization.”
As enthusiastic as he is for his upcoming professional debut, there are certainly parts of college that he says he will miss. CC was a home to Wilkie, and he easily articulates what he will be melancholy not to have anymore: “I just think [I’ll miss] being around campus, being around teammates and friends so much,” said the athlete.
Wilkie was an instrumental forward and a key player in many games over the last three years. He specifically remembers two matchups that meant a lot to him: his first time playing against North Dakota (his former teammates), and winning the trophy against Denver. While his absence will certainly be noticed by fans, Wilkie is optimistic about the upcoming season of this year’s CC Hockey team.
“I think they have a promising team this year, obviously Coach is going to do a good job,” Wilkie said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about the class they have coming in. I think the younger guys, the guys that are moving up into junior and senior roles, can step up and be key players on that team. I will definitely be excited to follow.” The moment is as bittersweet for Wilkie as it is for his remaining teammates. While he enjoyed his time at CC, he does note some upside to a professional career: “I’m excited to not have to worry about school, and just play hockey,” said Wilkie. Wilkie is ready and eager to dedicate his life to the sport he loves: “That’s the job now.”