Chicago Wolves' Pheonix Copley Hails From North Pole (No, Really)

Pheonix Copley's mask is a festive one, featuring two candy canes. The 24-year-old goaltender for the Chicago Wolves does love Christmas, but that's not the reason for the holiday touch.

"All the time, people ask me what they're for," Copley said. "It's kind of a random thing, but it's cool. It kind of pops on the chin. It's just a little tribute to North Pole."

Yes, North Pole - but not the one you're thinking of. Copley is from North Pole, Alaska, which is indeed a real place. The town of 2,000 just outside of Fairbanks is where Copley grew up and is the root of a million questions his teammates constantly ask.

"How often do you see Santa? What do the elves do when they're not making presents? What is the common job in North Pole, Alaska? Does it snow year round?" teammate Scooter Vaughan listed off.

"They ask me if I'm Buddy the elf. I can't be a regular elf at 6'3", so I've got to be Buddy the elf," Copley added.

It turns out, according to Copley, Santa visits his hometown, "but he resides on top of the world."

Inquiring minds might wonder, upon finding out that Copley is working toward an engineering degree, if he's hoping to use it to make toys.

"That's a secret, I can't let that one out," is his response.

But what's not a secret is the way North Pole embraces its unique name and the Christmas holiday.

Light poles on the streets become candy canes, while Saint Nick has his own house.

"There's actually a man who changed his name to Kris Kringle up there. He wears red and has a white beard," Copley said. "There's reindeer at the Santa Claus house. It's a special thing they put together for tourists."

Not surprisingly, Copley's teammates said they would love to visit his mythical home town.

"Maybe for all-star break we'll head down there," teammate Jordan Binningtown suggested. "It's probably 24 hours in flights, stay for an hour and a half, then come back 24 hour flights to be back for the next game, so maybe we can work that in."

With a name like North Pole, Copley understands why they would want to check it out, but to him, there's no novelty - it's just home.

"Other than the name, it's what I consider a pretty regular place." he said. "It's a nice little spot, I like it."

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