Former hockey captain Dr. Peter Spafford contributes $100,000 to Home Ice Campaign
Being a University of Saskatchewan alum is practically tradition for the Spafford family. The late Duff Spafford left a legacy at the U of S both as an alumnus and as a dedicated community member and Professor Emeritus of Political Studies. Keeping with tradition, his son, Dr. Peter Spafford, not only received his education from the U of S, but has spent much of his professional career educating others.
Dr. Peter Spafford graduated from the College of Medicine at the U of S in 1987, and has gone on to have a successful practice in otolaryngology – head and neck surgery. He has been the head of the Division of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery in the Department of Surgery at the U of S for more than two decades, and also served as the president of the Canadian Society of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
The next generation of Spaffords are keen to carry on the U of S tradition. Spafford’s daughter, Megan Spafford, is currently studying at the College of Medicine, and his son Matt Spafford (B.Comm ’16) recently graduated as a fifth-year player on the men’s Huskies hockey team in 2016.
Dr. Spafford beams with pride at being one of the few father-son duos to both play Huskies hockey, having himself captained the team in the ‘80s. He led the squad to a silver medal at the national championships in 1987, and says his time as a student athlete helped instill his work ethic and left him with a lasting network of friends.
“If I was going to be a good medical student I had to retain everything so that I could keep up my academics while balancing being an athlete – that was a valuable life lesson,” Spafford says. “Coach Dave King was very inspiring to me because he instilled that my pursuit of medicine was just as important as hockey.”
More than 30 years after his time as a player, you’ll still find Spafford at Rutherford Rink on game day. He has remained an avid Huskies fan, and says he’s sure that he has attended more games than any other hockey alumni over the past 25 years. Throughout that time, Spafford says he’s watched the condition of Rutherford deteriorate.
“It was in awful shape even back then,” he said. “Our opponents hated that place. It was cold, it was loud, it was dirty, it was a nasty place to play, but it was our home. I’m going to miss it.”
Despite his fondness for Rutherford, Spafford is eager to see the team move into a new arena. In addition to volunteering his time along with other alumni to secure the new facility, Spafford himself has donated $100,000 towards the construction of Merlis Belsher Place.
Spafford says his commitment to the game of hockey and the role that the U of S has played in his life inspired him to give back and support the Home Ice campaign.
“I’m very loyal to the university for what it gave me, what it produced in my life,” he says. “It was a privilege to play hockey at a high level with other students that would become professionals, it’s taught me life lessons, it taught me work ethic, communication, teamwork… so this donation was a way of giving back to the university in a hockey sense but also to the community.”
As a hockey parent himself, Spafford said he was well aware of the struggle for ice time in the city. He’s happy to see that minor hockey leagues will have a dedicated amount of ice time at Merlis Belsher Place as well. Most of all, Spafford said he’s looking forward to filling the new arena with hordes of cheering fans.
“The new rink will be safer cleaner, larger, brighter and most importantly, the hockey team really needs fan support. You couldn’t have it at a significant level at the old rink, so it’s really the unknown fan base that we haven’t attracted yet that I’m looking forward to.”