Defenseman Jon Cook of Denver and two other Colorado natives have agreed to join the University of Denver hockey team as recruited freshman walk-ons next season.
Cook, brother of outgoing Pioneers senior forward Steven Cook, is a rookie in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, playing for the Camrose Kodiaks. The league champions are ranked No. 2 in the Canadian junior-A system, and Cook has played in 75 of the club's 77 regular-season and playoff games heading into the national tournament, which begins Friday.
Cook's sister, Dominique, is scheduled to marry former DU star Mark Rycroft, who just finished his first season with the Avalanche, in June. Dominique also attended DU.
"For me to be able to come back home and play is an absolute dream," Cook said from his Canadian billet home. "I'm so happy to have the opportunity, and whatever the team asks me to do that's what I'm doing."
Cook, who graduated from Colorado Academy, will become a DU classmate with defenseman Chris Nutini of Aurora and forward Steve Cunningham of Boulder.
Nutini, who attended Regis High School, plays for Wichita Falls of the North American Hockey League. Cunningham, from Fairview High School, plays for Burnaby of the British Columbia Hockey League.
Cook, 21, said he doesn't know Nutini and Cunningham, but given that Cook is older and didn't play hockey from the ages of 12 to 17, that's not surprising. Cook quit the game after pee-wees, then picked it up again as a high school junior after seeing his older brother develop at DU.
Steven Cook, who played four years of Colorado prep hockey at Kent Denver, overcame injuries and became a valuable fourth-line checking winger as a junior and senior at DU.
"I'd watch him and say, 'Man, that's a good time out there,"' Jon said of his 23-year-old brother. "That definitely had something to do with me coming back.
"I always think, 'Man, why did I ever quit. I would be so much further along.' But I really respect the game now. It's like a new-found love."