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
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
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.
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.”