Inside Cooper’s corner
Q&A with one of Canada West’s bright young talents
By Dan Khavkin, Contributor
Coming into the 2015-16 season, Colin Cooper was the first year goalie on the Mount Royal University hockey team who thought he was going to be finding a comfortable spot on the end of the bench for the season. Besides, coming off of a stellar season for the Cougars, Cam Lanigan was the undisputed starter. But the world has a funny way of working out.
After Lanigan suffered an injury early in the season, Cooper was forced to start on the biggest stage of his life. And guess what? He played incredibly well; so well in fact that he posted a 2.30 GAA in 19 games started. He was named to the CIS rookie team and hasn’t looked back since.
Going into his second year majoring in Business Administration, we had the chance the sit down and get inside the mind of Colin Cooper.
What’s your favourite NHL team?
I would have to say the L.A. Kings
When did you become a fan?
Kinda when Quick started coming out, I obviously love goalies, so when he was being more known I guess is when I started watching them so, I like how they play and they’re such a hard working team and I like that about them.
On the topic of goalies, who’s your favourite all time?
I would say Quick still, but you have to think about Patrick Roy and those guys, more presently it would be Quick, and Price is getting up there too.
Favourite hockey memory?
I’d go back to my first junior win, it was pretty cool. I played on the Canucks (AJHL) and we weren’t really a great team but we started off real nervous and we got the huge win so I’ll never forget the feeling after.
Best save you can remember?
(Smiling ear to ear) It would’ve been in Junior as well. We played in Brooks, they had a 3 on 1, one of their guys dropped it down low, I slid across and my defensemen was sliding into me so I had to hurdle over him and gloved it
Best memory in a Cougars jersey so far?
Beating Alberta my 2nd weekend. We came out and won 3-1, being a first year and seeing a team like them who were at the pedestal of Canada West for so long, I remember being nervous all game so getting in there for the win and seeing how good our team was, it was a good feeling.
How did you feel last year when [Cam] Lanigan got injured and you got the call to start for your team for the rest of the season?
I mean I was nervous at first, but I took everything in stride. I knew everything happened for a reason so I put on my work boots and trusted that the guys at the front would help me out.
Who’s your celebrity crush?
Tough, but I would have to say Selena Gomez.
I think she’s everybody’s (laughing). Pre game ritual? As a goalie you must have something crazy.
Well I usually try and stay pretty calm and not rile myself up. I have my headphones in all day at the rink, stay in my own little zone, then I go stretch, sit on the bench before the game and kind of visualize and kind of say my last prayers before the game and get focused for it.
Talking about prayers, a player comes in on you 1 on 1 in overtime, what’s your move to stop him?
For goalies it would be more patience, so kind of hoping they make the first move and stay aggressive. I would wait for the guy to make a move but you know you can throw in a poke check in there and force him onto his backhand, so that would be my only move.
Who would you say has the strongest social media game on the team?
(Laughing) I would say Jesse Lees, he’s one of the new guys. He’s got a pretty good Instagram going and Dominic Thom.
Why those guys?
Well if you look at their followers they got tons and those guys are always on their phones so they must be good at something.
Which teammate would you like to room with the least?
Well for most I would say Jesse [Lees]. I’ve known him the longest out of everyone on the team, and the worst, geez I don’t know that’s tough.
Pick someone who smells bad or something like that
(Laughing) well I think I would say Emerson Hrynyk, just because he’s such a big dude, always aggressive, I would feel he’d take me out at one point.
Why did you choose MRU?
It was more proximity to home. I talked to division-1 schools but I didn’t feel like leaving home honestly. When I met coach Bert [Gilling] it was huge. He didn’t compare me to my size like other schools; I felt comfortable as soon as I got here.
Did you know Bert before?
Yeah I heard of him. I knew some of the guys who were on the team and they said they really liked him, talking to him throughout the season was cool. He’s such a passionate guy and you don’t get that from a lot of the coaches, he showed how much he cared for you.
On a road trip, how do you kill time?
Homework honestly, either napping or doing homework, we’re pretty busy. We fly in and have a team dinner so our downtime would be doing homework or watching game highlights, but for the most part it’s crushing naps, the games keep us busy enough.
On the topic of school, as a student athlete do you have a certain standard you hold yourself to?
Bert is pretty hard on us, and he explains to us that school comes first – we’re student athletes, not athlete students, so he’s good with that. He keeps us accountable along with the older guys; if our grades aren’t good we don’t get to play.
You talked about the older guys help hold teammates accountable; with you being a bit more of a “senior”, how do you help the new guys fit in?
For me I’m more of a quiet guy, so I’m more of a “lead by example”. I’d ask the guys “hey I’m going to go study, want to join?” or ask them if they did their homework, I wouldn’t force it down their throat.
How did you handle the transition from the AJHL to university level hockey?
It was different, we practice at such a high tempo and it becomes intimidating for a new guy like myself last year. You go from being the oldest guy to the youngest, the players play better, they make decisions faster so it bring your mind tempo up and keeps you going all the time.
Having a new WHL goalie partner in Wyatt Hoflin, do you expect to learn anything from him?
I mean you can learn anything from anyone, so for me I would try and understand where he is strong and see if that helps me, so, we always bounce ideas off each other. Hof, Lanigan and myself are all good friends, so that’s been kind of a blessing for us.
Coming off your great season where you were named to the Rookie All Star Team for Canada West, how can you beat that?
You have to build off it and not be contempt with anything, right? It was a huge honour to be named to that, but I also know it came with hard work and pressure, so for me it would be to add more practice and work harder.
Do you think this year’s squad is better than last years?
Last year we had something special with the guys. We had guys like Carts (Cody Cartier) and Fids (Tyler Fiddler) who play professional now. Definitely skill wise we’re going to be a better team with all the young guys coming in, like you said, guys like Hof, so if we continue to grow as a team then we’ll be good.
As a player, do the fans make you play better or do they add to the nerves?
I usually don’t let that get to me. I’m pretty much zoned into the game, but at home it’s great that we have the energy we get. I mean, it’s better than playing at away barns where we just get yelled at so that’s good, but as a player I don’t let it get to me.
What’s next for Colin Cooper?
I would still want to peruse hockey and get a pro contract abroad in like Europe or something, but if that doesn’t work out, that’s where my education comes in and I start looking for a job.