2023  h g c  misa  spence

Fast friends: Misa and Spence ascending the hockey ranks together

From the GTHL to going back-to-back in the OHL draft, the Hlinka teammates' friendship off the ice is helping them succeed on it

Jonathan Yue
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August 3, 2023
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For former Mississauga Senators teammates Malcolm Spence and Michael Misa, it was their first interaction four years ago off the ice that kick-started a long-lasting friendship.

“Misa was the one who really welcomed me to the Senators,” recalls Spence. “I broke my wrist in [U11] and he was the one who made me feel welcomed and introduced me to the Sens after I came over from Burlington. Right away, we clicked and we became really close.”

Misa and Spence first met as members of the Senators in 2019 and over the next three seasons with the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) club they became close friends not just on the ice, but also off it, bonding over other things like Sunday Night Football.

“Malcolm came in with a great attitude and he’s a great person to be around, so we connected real quick,” says Misa. “He’s become like a brother to me.”

As Misa and Spence's friendship grew, so did their competitiveness, often pushing each other to be better on and off the ice and building off their successes — something that continues to this day.

“The competition is definitely always there between us. He pushes me and I push him,” says Spence.

That competitiveness was evident during the 2021-22 season with the Sens, which happened to be their last. The two finished second and third on the team in scoring — Spence had 56 points and Misa had 43. The pair also helped Mississauga capture the 2022 OHL Cup, its first since 1993. As a 15-year-old, Misa led the tournament with 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists), while Spence was right behind with 13 (six goals, seven assists).

During the 2022-23 season, the friends found themselves playing against each other for the first time after they were drafted 1-2 in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection. Misa, a 2007-born forward who granted exceptional status to enter the OHL draft, went No. 1 to the Saginaw Spirit while Spence landed with the Erie Otters.

“On the ice, it’s always competitive. But, once we’re off the ice, we’re friends again and we understand that as players,” says Misa.

“It’s all fun and games as friends, but when we play against each other, it’s serious,” adds Spence.

Reunited again

Last month, Spence and Misa learned they would be together again for the first time since their days in Mississauga after they were named to Canada's National Men's Summer Under-18 Team for the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup — something they're both happy about.

“I’m definitely enjoying it right now, seeing his jersey on my team again, making great plays, I’m super happy for that,” says Spence.

“We’ve always had a tight bond so its always nice to have someone that I can talk to [on the team],” Misa adds.

Going for gold

Misa and Spence know what it’s like to represent the Maple Leaf against international competition, having done so at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Langley and Delta, BC last fall. Spence was a member of Canada Black while Misa represented Canada Red.

“The international competition is always some of the best,” Misa adds. “We have to be ready for each game because everyone brings their best game to the Hlinka Gretzky.”

As the two continue to develop and prepare for their futures, Misa and Spence know they have lots of work to do to eventually make it to the NHL. But for now, the pair, who are both draft eligible in 2025, are focused on the task at hand — winning gold.

“It would be huge to be able to bring that success home,” Spence says. “We’re taking it day by day, we’re going to bring as much of our success in and continue to build on it. For myself, I hope to just get better every day. If I can do that, everything else will take care of itself.”

“We came here to win the gold medal so everyone on the team is striving to get that goal,” echoes Misa. “The next level is even harder so I just want to bring everything I can this summer and learn everything and keep improving.”

Wherever their talents take them, both Misa and Spence say they will continue to support each other wherever they end up.

“We built chemistry off the ice and it transitioned off it. Me and Michael have a lot of that chemistry, so whenever we play together, it led to special moments, so I’ll forever cherish those,” Spence says. “He’s one of my best friends and I can’t thank him enough.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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