By Warren Rappleyea
When Owen Cole joined the team this year, the Junior Senators coaching staff expected a solid two-way player. They got that and much more: with 53 points Cole is battling for the scoring lead in the Central Canada Hockey (CCHL) League.
So solid was his play that he earned a scholarship with UMass-Lowell, which will begin in the 2020-21 season. And with eight points in his last four games, Cole was named the Week 19 CCM Hockey Player of the Week.
In his first 39 matches, the Dunnville, Ontario resident produced 21 goals—five of them game winners. He also became a factor on the power play, where his eagle eye has produced 12 assists to go with three goals. In addition, Cole has been winning 56% of his face-offs and he has also earned time on the penalty kill.
“We have a lot of talented veterans here, but the coaches were willing to give me an opportunity,” the speedy center said. “That really helped my confidence, especially because they stuck with me after we had a rough start.”
The beginning of the campaign proved to be an adjustment period for the lefty-shooting center. Cole persevered and soon settled in showing he could get the job done in the CCHL. Although Cole expected to be more of a role player in his first season in Ottawa, the youngster’s attention to detail in the defensive end impressed GM/Coach Martin Dagenais, which has led to more and more ice time.
“My dad instilled the importance of playing defense in me when I was growing up,” Cole said. “If you’re reliable defensively you’re more likely to be on the ice in six-on-five situations at the end of games. And if you play good defense, the offense will come soon after.”
Cole’s quick shot and his ability to see the ice and read plays gave the Junior Senators attack a boost. He moves the puck well, has the speed to beat defenders wide and the moves to buy time for his teammates to find open ice.
This has created quite a bit of excitement on Walkley Road. However, CCHL teams have noticed as well. In recent games Cole has garnered extra attention from opposing players looking to get him off his game.
“Owen has been a great addition to our hockey club,” Dagenais said. “He’s an ultimate team guy who plays the right way. He’s come a long way since his first game with us back in August. He’s successful because of his work ethic and his willingness to learn at every practice and every game. He thinks like a pro, works like a pro, and that’s why we think he’ll keep improving. We’re all eager to see how he’ll react to his first CCHL playoff experience in March as opposing teams give him more special attention.”
Cole, has been playing hockey for as long as he can remember; however, education is even more important in the Cole household. Both of his parents are teachers and his oldest sister is attending teachers college. Cole was aware early on that if his grades were not good, hockey would be put on the back burner.
As a player, he progressed through the Southern Tier Admirals minor hockey program where he attracted the attention of Ridley College, a prep school in St. Catharines, Ontario, where he played prior to joining Ottawa. It was there that he drew the attention of Junior Senators Associate Coach Jamie Mayo, who frequently attended games and made it a point to chat with Cole afterwards. As a result, Cole was invited to the Junior Senators camp last June, where he earned and accepted a contract offer from Dagenais. Clearly a good decision by both sides as Ottawa chases a seventh straight Yzerman Division title.
“I try to lead by example on the ice and the coaches look at me when we’re down to get something going,” the 5-10 (“If I stretch a little), 170-pounder said. “I appreciate the responsibility and I’m working hard to continue to improve my game. We expect to win the division again and if I keep playing well, I can help the team win. Even if I don’t get a lot of points, if I play well defensively and chip in offensively
and we win the division, that’s our goal and I’ll be happy.”