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'Just enjoy it:' Star goalie gives parting advice after Centennial Cup win

'It would be really nice to play professional hockey and continue to play, but I think that’s something that I’ll review down the road,' said Pak, who will play at Yale next year
Collingwood Blue goalie Noah Pak with the Buckland Cup following the Blues' winning the OJHL championships. They went on to win the CJHL Centennial Cup as well, with Pak earning a 1-0 shutout in the final game.

Collingwood Blues goalie and fan-favourite Noak Pak has had a memorable final year of junior hockey and it earned him the title of best goalie in Canadian Junior A Hockey and multiple player of the game picks. He helped the Blues to the OJHL Buckland Cup and then led the Blues to the Centennial Cup, a national title.

The 20-year-old took some time to talk about his hockey journey before he heads off to Yale University, where he'll be playing NCAA hockey.

Q: Where were you born?

A: I grew up in Oakville.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to play hockey?

A: When I was younger, I played a lot of sports: soccer, basketball, golf and hockey.

Hockey always just stuck with me.

I enjoyed meeting friends off the rink.

Probably by 12 years old, I wanted to go somewhere to school to play hockey, so I just stuck with it.

Q: What is it about hockey that stuck out to you?

A: Our team went to Cornell University because our coach was an alumnus there. Going to that place and seeing a game made me just fall in love with school hockey.

Q: What made you want to try out for Junior A, choosing Collingwood in particular?

Noah Pak hugs Blues coach Andrew Campoli following their CJHL Centennial Cup win in Oakville. Photo by Tim Bates / OJHL Images

A: I came up to Collingwood in 2020. Our general manager Mike Tarantino was my coach back in Oakville for a year, and he moved up here so I came with him.

I knew how good (Mike) was and the connections he had.

A few guys back home were offered spots as well so we all discussed it and decided this would be a great place to play.

Q: Do you want to talk about the progression of the Blues from your perspective, from when you started in 2020 to today?

A: Progression as a team has been happening here since we came up in 2020.

We wanted to make a run for a national title. Tarantino got that timing spot-on. We always had faith that we would be able to have a team good enough to win a national title.

It’s pretty cool now that we’ve completed that.

I think every player that’s come through this program has come out a different and better man. Our coach Andrew Campoli has done an amazing job of teaching values on and off the ice.

The past four years have been amazing. I’ve made life-long friends. The support of the community who come out to our games has been probably the best in the league that I’ve seen.

We’re fortunate people come out and watch us, and cheer us on.

Q: You’ve had a couple of personal achievements this year, including being named the best goaltender of the year for the CJHL and the final game of the Centennial Cup being a shutout. Can you talk about how that felt on a personal level?

A: It’s obviously nice to get recognition, but at the end of the day my teammates helped me out so much. Nothing would be possible without them.

I’m just a part of the team, and we have common goals. That last game was a textbook Collingwood Blues game plan, and we all executed it perfectly. I don’t think we really cared what the score ended up being, as long as we were on the winning side.

Q: You’re going to Yale in the fall, and you’re going to be playing as goalie for the university’s hockey team. What will you be studying?

A: I don’t have to pick my major until after second year, but I’m leaning toward the business side and possibly economics or marketing.

Q: What do you want to do when you’re done school?

A: Obviously, it would be really nice to play professional hockey and continue to play, but I think that’s something that I’ll review down the road.

As far as work, I don’t fully know yet, but I’d love to be able to run a company someday.

I’m not sure if I want to go straight into working. Hockey’s been pretty much all I’ve done my whole life.

Q: With you moving on, what would your advice for the next Blues goalie be?

A: Just embrace it and enjoy it.

The numbers and stats don’t always matter.

Keep trying to get better everyday.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I like to go golfing. I hang out with friends. I play roller hockey. I like to play basketball with my friends just to stay active and busy.

Q: Is there anything else people in Collingwood should know about you?

A: I want to express my gratitude to this town for taking me and all the guys in. We really enjoyed our time here, and we’ll definitely be back to visit.

Pak tends the Blues net during the final game for the Centennial Cup. Photo by Tim Bates / OJHL Images

For our feature People of Collingwood, we speak with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature runs on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email [email protected].


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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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