Summer is over, the kids are in school and hockey season is right around the corner. Cochrane has seemingly churned out a number of hockey stars, including multiple Cochranites playing professional hockey as well as a few trying to work through the ranks of junior and into the National Hockey League (NHL). Here is a list of Cochrane athletes who are heading into training camp over the next few weeks.
Dillon Dubé - Calgary Flames
Dubé had a fall to remember in 2018. Coming out of junior with the Kelowna Rockets, he was a longshot to crack the Calgary Flames opening night roster as the team had filled out positionally with older, more experienced players through free agency and trading with other NHL teams. Yet, with stellar play throughout the preseason, Dubé earned a spot on the big club for the first few weeks of the season and ended up playing 25 games overall with the Flames throughout the year where he scored his first NHL goal and added four assists. He also played a chunk of the season with Calgary's farm team - the Stockton Heat of the AHL where he registered 15 goals, 24 assists and 39 points in 37 games.
"I didn't stay the full year last year for a reason," Dubé said in an interview with 960 The Fan's Pat Steinberg on what he needs to do in order to make the Flames on a full-time basis this year. "It's a new camp and you have new goals. Obviously, this year (it's) to be (in the NHL) every single game of the year. Last year was a step forward and this year I'm trying to make another one."
“I think I’m focused on developing my game. You’ve got to look at it from the whole picture. Since I was 18 I feel like I’ve developed my game a lot. You look at yourself as a full-time NHLer and how do you get there and guys take a lot of different paths. I want to be able to make sure I grow my game and develop to where I need to be so when I get to the NHL I can be the player I need to be.”
Justin Dowling - Dallas Stars/Texas Stars
Justin Dowling seemingly had a breakthrough last season. He was named the captain of the Texas Stars, the minor league affiliate of the Dallas Stars and managed to be a force offensively, scoring 53 points in 62 games which translated into a promotion with Dallas. He suited up in 11 regular season games with the Stars, chipping in with one assist and also playing in all 13 of Dallas' playoff games, where he had two assists and helped the Stars make the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Tyler Wong - Kulan Red Star
Tyler Wong will be taking a different path in pro hockey. The 23-year-old local hockey star who suited up last year in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Vegas Golden Knights affiliated Chicago Wolves, Wong will be taking his skills over to the Russian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and the Kunlun Red Star, a team based out of Beijing, China that joined the KHL in 2016.
"I'm very excited to get over there and start things up," Wong said of his chance to play with Kunlun. "They've tried to sign me for a year or two now and I felt that it was the best opportunity for me right now to progress as a player and showcase myself in a really good league."
In 68 games with the Wolves, he had five goals and 13 points. He has suited up for four games already with Kunlan where he tallied an assist in those contests.
Connor Bouchard - Tri-City Americans
Connor Bouchard is going into his third season with the Tri-City Americans and after being passed over in last June's NHL draft, is looking to gain the attraction of teams in his second year of eligibility. In his first season in the WHL, Bouchard played a limited role with the Americans, garnering eight points in 60 games. In his second season, he was put into more of an offensive role, scoring seven goals and adding 24 assists for 31 points in 68 games. He will now look to advance a step further after Tri-City lost three of its top four leading scorers.
Tyrel Bauer - Seattle Thunderbirds
Fresh off a week of training with Hockey Canada, Tyrel Bauer is looking to build off of a stellar rookie campaign with the Western Hockey League's (WHL) Seattle Thunderbirds. Bauer suited up for 64 regular season games and six playoff games where he scored a total of two goals and added 13 assists for 15 points in those 70 games. He is now entering his NHL draft year. He says he has some goals he'd like to achieve in order to hopefully get noticed by NHL scouts and general managers.
"I'm just going to try and help my team and make an impact on every shift," Bauer said. "The little details of the game are what separates players at this level, so they are very important. I also have specific personal goals that I will evaluate throughout the season."
Cochrane has had an influx of players make it through the minor hockey ranks and into the top tiers of hockey in Canada. Bauer said that the town is a hockey community that has created a great culture for those players to grow.
"I think Cochrane is just a great hockey community. The culture the town has created in unbeatable. Hockey is a passion here but it also goes deeper than that," Bauer said. "The community is extremely supportive and has loved the sport throughout the years. They have embraced kids' dreams and helped them accomplish these goals. This is very humbling, knowing that these people are willing to go the extra step to help others. There are also many trainers, gyms and programs that help athletes get to the next level."