Kero makes surprise visit to Keweenaw Buick GMC opening

Daily Mining Gazette/Jamie Glenn The Canucks’ Tanner Kero poses with a fan during an autograph session Friday as part of the grand opening of the Keweenaw Buick GMC.

HANCOCK — Former Michigan Tech Huskies star Tanner Kero signed autographs and took photos with friends and fans alike to celebrate the grand opening of the Keweenaw Buick GMC in Hancock on Friday. Kero was a center and left winger for the Huskies from 2011 until 2014.

After college, he continued his career playing by signing an NHL contract with the Chicago Blackhawks before splitting time between the NHL squad and the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs during each of the last three seasons.

After a recent trade to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, Kero is excited about his first training camp with his new teammates. However, before heading to the west coast, Kero had one last public event he wanted to be a part of in his hometown.

“It’s always special to come home,” said Kero. “I’m fortunate enough to have a job that I can come home in the summers (to) spend time with family.

“Being around the community is awesome. It’s where I grew up playing hockey, it’s where all of my friends and family have been from. The support from the community has been tremendous throughout my career so it’s fun to come back and be apart of it.”

Having grown up playing in the Copper Country Junior Hockey Association before heading to the Hancock Bulldogs for high school, Kero loved playing locally while developing his skills before moving on to juniors. He admits that transition is not an easy one.

“It’s obviously an adjustment at first, moving away and you know, going to a bigger city and bigger city life,” said Kero. “You kind of get used to that a little bit. It’s also nice to come back to more of a small town in the summers and kind of get away from that hectic busy life a little bit (where I can) relax and enjoy the summers.”

Kero played juniors for the Marquette Rangers of the North American Hockey League and then advanced on to the United States Hockey League’s Fargo Force 2010, where he played one season before moving back home to play at Tech.

Since signing his first professional contract, Kero has continued to work on improving himself at least a little bit each year.

“Every time when you move up a level it’s a little bit of an adjustment,” said Kero. “The players are a little bit better, faster, stronger so it takes a little bit of time to get used to it but once you get into it and get going then you just play your game.”

Even though Kero’s time with the Huskies has passed, he has enjoyed coming across former teammates and alumni around North America.

“It’s awesome,” said Kero. “You’re always bumping into former Michigan Tech students or athletes wherever I go, so it’s pretty cool.”

Tom Colombe, general sales manager of the Keweenaw Buick GMC, was happy to have Kero come in and help celebrate the grand opening of the Hancock store.

“I’ve known the (Kero) family,” said Colombe. “My kids are in sports. Anybody that knows that family, they’re all athletic.

“I mean, what he’s accomplished for being from such a small area is great. The fact that he’s down to earth, I mean (he’s) just like you and me (that’s) a special thing and having him here is great for the kids.”