“I always remember him laughing and smiling and making the game fun,” said Cooley. “It’s always important to remember that it’s just a game. It’s something you want to do, and you love to do it, so I think enjoying it, having fun and not having it too seriously was important at that age.”
Cooley was 5 years old when he climbed onto the ice at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, to participate in the inaugural Little Penguins Learn to Play in 2008-2009, an introductory clinic for children ages 5 to 9 that presented First – in time participants receive complimentary head-to-toe equipment along with age-appropriate snowboarding instruction by certified instructors.
“He has two older brothers (Eric and Riley) who play hockey and he absolutely loved it, he just couldn’t wait for his turn,” Logan’s mother, Cathy Cooley, said. “He was playing alongside his brothers; this was his life. His wand would go everywhere he went when he was a baby. It was in his car seat and when he started to walk. It was always in his hands. The program was advertised all over we thought it was It was a perfect start. He used to wear his brother’s gear, so finally putting him in proper hockey gear was the only thing for us. And the gear fit just right.”
Crosby, captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, was on the ice among 100 of those kids who had a gold ticket in their gear bag. It is estimated that the program has received more than 14,000 local children since its inception in 2008.
“I think I look at that as a really cool thing, because its purpose is to introduce kids to the game and give them a chance,” Crosby told the Penguins website. “fact that [Cooley] I fell in love with the game and obviously a really good performance is great to see. But I think at the same time, it’s just about getting the chance, so I’m glad it worked that way.”
Fast forward 13 years and Cooley is expected to become the best Pittsburgh-area player in NHL history. Left position (5 feet-10, 180 lbs.) with the USA Hockey Team U18s Development Program team is No. 2 in The final NHL Central Scouting ranking of North American skaters Eligible to participate in the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft.
“You travel everywhere and you see these different players and different teams and there are a lot of hockey players from all over the world,” said Eric Cooley, Logan’s father. “It’s amazing that he’s in the conversation as one of the best players out of Pittsburgh.”
Vancouver Canucks ahead GT Miller, who split his childhood between East Palestine, Ohio and Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, holds that distinction after being selected as the 15th by the New York Rangers in the 2011 NHL Draft. Miller, like Cooley, spent two seasons with the USA Hockey Team Development Program. Forward RJ Umberger, who was born in Pittsburgh, was named No. 16 by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2001 NHL Draft.
“It’s something I’d definitely like to happen, but I know draft day can be crazy too,” Cooley said of the prospect of becoming the most experienced Pittsburgh area player. “I’ve heard some crazy stories that you really can’t control. So I’m just looking forward to going out there, having fun and not trying to think about it too much.”
Even crazier, however, is the fact that despite being born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, Cooley is a huge fan of Captain Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin.
“We went to a lot of Penguins games when I was younger, as I was from West Mifflin[Pennsylvania]and you obviously can’t really hate Sidney Crosby, he’s an amazing guy,” said Cooley. “But to be honest, I was a fan of DC growing up. I don’t really know how it happened, but since I was a little kid, I’ve loved ‘Ovi.'”
“He’s one of the best players in the world and I love the way he competes. I try to do some of the things he does in his game and bring them into my game.”
Cathy said, “I don’t think we’ve admitted this publicly before, but he was so passionate about Ovi and loved him so much that he became contagious, only because of Logan and his love for him, and we all became such fans of Ovi… We might be kicked out of Pittsburgh after this comment.”
Cooley has an Ovechkin shirt and a Fathead wall sticker. For the record, he also has Fathead of Crosby and Chicago Blackhawks as a striker Patrick King.
Rooting Ovechkin in a home full of Penguins fans wasn’t easy.
“I grew up with a lot of Pittsburgh fans and was kind of the only one rooting against them,” Cooley said with a smile. “Other than that, it was just so funny being around all the Pittsburgh fans and cheering for the different teams.”
Cooley is a top three in the 2022 draft with a one-day chance, perhaps, to play for or against his childhood hockey idols. The Montreal Canadiens have the #1 pick, the New Jersey Devils have the #2 pick, and the Arizona Coyotes have the #3 pick.
Cooley will commit to the University of Minnesota in 2022-23.
“[Cooley] It’s very hard to contain, very hard to curb, said David Gregory, Director of Central Scouting, and he has this brain that processes the game very quickly.
Video: Project Predict: The Best of Logan Cooley
“You have to put your wand on the ice at all times when you’re playing with Logan because you might get a disc, or he might fake you and shoot him and score himself.”
The 18-year-old finished second in the NTDP with 75 points (27 goals and 48 assists) in 51 matches. He had 10 points (three goals, seven assists) and 23 shots on target in six matches to help the United States finish second in the 2022 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
“I’m a two-way player, have a good IQ, and I’m in good hands,” Cooley said. “I have the finishing touch and I can play under pressure. What do I need to work on? I would just say my physical strength, I’m getting stronger on my skates. When you play against bigger and stronger people, you have to be very strong. So I would just say keep strong. Obviously, I’m getting stronger on my feet.”
Cooley has never been to Montreal, but that will change since the 2022 draft is scheduled to be held at the Bale Center. Round 1 is on July 7 and Rounds 2-7 will be July 8.
“Recruitment is a really important part of your career, and it’s always in the back of your mind, so there’s a little bit of pressure,” he said. “But pressure is good for you too. I think I’m just trying to play my game, doing what I do best and then looking forward to the draft. I hope everything is in place and it will be a special night for sure.”
While Logan never went to Montreal, his parents did and look forward to returning to support their son on his big day.
“It’s funny…I delivered a boy to the NTDP and got a man back,” said Cathy, who has lived with Logan while attending the NTDP in Plymouth, Michigan, for the past two seasons. “How they prepared him is really cool. I think to myself, ‘What happened to that shy little boy?'” ”
“I mean, it shocks me when I see him doing interviews, but that’s how much he wanted it. A couple of years ago he had hockey kits. But what I see now shows how hungry he is for this opportunity.”
NTDP Images: Rena Laverty, USA Hockey NTDP
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