Jordon Cooke caps junior career with CHL award
With a stellar final season of major junior hockey and a Canadian Hockey League award to his credit, Jordon Cooke has done all he can to garner the attention of professional teams.
Now the 20-year-old former Kelowna Rockets' netminder will just sit back and wait to see which direction his career will take.
"I'm hoping the award will lead to some pro offerings…we'll see what happens in the next month or so," said the 5-foot-10, 177-pound stopper. "It's definitely the dream of every kid to play pro and I'm no different.
"But if it doesn't happen, then I'll go to school and take advantage of the WHL's scholarship program. It's been a goal of mine to get an education, too."
Although Cooke didn't realize his ultimate goal of winning a WHL title this season, the native of Leduc, AB concluded his junior career in style, winning the Canadian Hockey League's goaltender of the year award.
In his fourth and final season in Kelowna, Cooke won 39 games and posted a 2.28 goals against average with four shutouts.
Cooke was in London Saturday, the site of the Memorial Cup, to accept one of major junior hockey's highest honours.
"It's pretty unbelievable, to get the acknowledgement is very special," said Cooke. "Growing up in Leduc, just getting to play in the WHL was the dream. Winning this (award) is more than I could have ever dreamed."
As he did when he won both the Rockets' MVP award and the WHL goaltender of the year, Cooke was quick to credit his teammates for the latest accolades.
"This award has everything to do with the team success we had," he said. "It's a product of the the way the guys played in front of me, and they are a big reason I'm here today with this award."
Cooke and his Rockets' teammates put together an unforgettable 2013-14 regular season, establishing franchise records for wins (57) and points (118) on the way to winning the overall WHL title.
Head coach Ryan Huska, who watched Cooke since his arrival in Kelowna as a raw rookie in 2010, said the 20-year-old Albertan evolved into a skilled and dependable goaltender.
"Hopefully some teams will pay some attention to this award, because I think Jordon deserves the opportunity to be a professional," Huska said. "He came to us with a lot to learn and he had to earn a spot. He was committed to working hard and turned into a good young man and very good goalie while he was with us.
"At the end of the day," added Huska, "he was a competitor and that's why he had success."
If a pro contract doesn't come his way, then Cooke will entertain the potential of playing next season in the Canada West conference—two of his preferred destinations include the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia.
Meanwhile, Rockets forward Nick Merkley was a finalist for the CHL's rookie of the year award on Saturday, but finished as a runner-up to Nikolaj Ehlers of the Halifax Mooseheads.