When Noah Prokop entered his name into the transfer portal on April 2, it was the start of a chaotic and whirlwind 18-day stretch.
“It was definitely the craziest thing I’ve ever been a part of in the hockey world,” Prokop said. “It was weird because you’d be talking to a school and they’d tell you they had an offer on the table, and then a day later they’d call and say they didn’t have the space or scholarship money anymore because there were so many guys available around the country.
“Just a lot of back-and-forth and trying to accumulate a lot of information and talk to a lot of people in a short period of time, but nothing was really guaranteed.”
Prokop, who is from Littleton, Colo., played 51 games over the last two seasons with the Mavericks. A player who developed a reputation as one of the team’s hardest workers, Prokop bounced between center and wing in the Mavericks’ bottom six. He embraced a role for much of his two seasons as a dependable player in the defensive zone and was especially effective on the penalty kill.
However, Prokop saw his role decrease at times last season and decided it was time for a change of scenery. Prokop entered the transfer portal, one of six Mavericks to do so at the end of last season, in search of a new opportunity and more playing time — especially with the roster logjam that was brewing for Omaha this season, which has been the case.
When Prokop narrowed it down to his final three choices, one of those schools emerged for more reasons than one. A new arena, a new coaching staff, a good fit, the same level of competition in the NCHC and proximity to home. Prokop officially announced he was transferring to Colorado College on April 20.
“Looking back on it, the trickiest part was just weighing all of my options, but I definitely think I made the right decision to come back home and play at Colorado College,” Prokop said. “The coaching staff, new rink and being so close to home, you can’t really beat it. My family gets to be there at almost every game and being 45 minutes away from home, I can stop in on an occasional Sunday to say hi and get a home-cooked meal, which I know means a lot to my family too.”
So far this season, Prokop has played in 10 games. He slotted in as the Tigers’ second-line center in their last game at Minnesota Duluth and has moved up down the lineup, penciled in at center each time. The junior center said he’s loving his time in Colorado Springs and is especially enjoying playing for Kris Mayotte and the CC staff.
“It’s definitely been a change, but nothing but good things to say about my time out here,” Prokop said. “It’s a very good school and the hockey program has been awesome. All the guys were welcoming and it was easy to get in here and settle in quick, so no complaints so far.
“Once I got here too, I was blown away. The facilities are incredible and with the opening of Robson (Arena) there’s been a lot of excitement around town and the school. So I think the biggest thing has been the support we’ve been getting at the games and around campus.”
Through 12 games, the Tigers sit at 2-7-3. However, that record may be a little deceiving to some. CC beat No. 10 Boston College on the road and came up just short (1-0 loss) the next night at No. 20 Northeastern. They forced overtime against St. Cloud State in their conference home opener and skated to a 0-0 tie (shootout loss) at Duluth in their last game too.
The Tigers visit No. 10 Omaha this weekend for their third NCHC series of the year. For Prokop though, this weekend will also be his first time back playing at Baxter Arena.
“It’s going to be strange not walking in the same entrance and sitting in the other locker room at Baxter because it became so habitual in my two years there,” Prokop said. “Being on the other side is definitely going to be a change. Because you have those little rituals before games and superstitions you became so used to, so being on the other side of it in a barn that you know so well is going to be a weird feeling.”
Prokop said he stays in contact with several guys on the Omaha roster and looks forward to seeing so many familiar faces again this weekend. Although there’s a job to do and six points on the line, Prokop said he doesn’t expect any bad blood this weekend. He joked he’ll get a chance to see who his real friends and the culprits are, but he’s looking forward to squaring off with his old teammates.
“You might think about it a little bit beforehand, but at the end of the day, it’s the same game,” Prokop said. “Everybody laces up their skates the same way and you’ve just got to treat it like any other conference game. I called it home for two years and I’m forever grateful I got to call myself a Maverick. I’m even more grateful for the relationships I made there, so a little piece of me is in Omaha, but you try not to get caught up in that stuff.
“I definitely have an opportunity this weekend that most of the other guys that transferred away from our team or left the past couple years didn’t and it’ll be fun to go against my old team and some friends.”
Game one between No. 10 Omaha and Colorado College gets underway at 7:07 p.m. on Friday. Game two will follow at the same time on Saturday.