‘Down on the farm’ is a bi-weekly feature series on Oil Caps prospects. Next up in this series: Colin Cook. Enjoy.
By Lanny Stewart
There’s nothing flashy when it comes to Colin Cook’s playing style but that doesn’t mean the 17-year-old Brandon product can’t be a productive junior A hockey player when he gets a full-time opportunity, which could very well be next year with the Virden Oil Capitals.
“I don’t think I’d look out of place,” said the 6-foot-180 pound forward regarding whether he’d be able to play in the MJHL right now.
Call it confidence or just self awareness, Cook certainly has an idea as to what he must do to succeed as a hockey player. Drafted in the fourth round (35th overall) by Virden in the 2016 MJHL Bantam Draft, Cook is known for his relentlessness on the ice, whether it’s retrieving loose pucks along the boards for his teammates or constantly getting under the opponent’s skin. He also has an offensive side to his game, picking up nine goals and 32 points in 48 games last season with the Brandon AAA midget Wheat Kings.
“He’s more of a meat and potatoes type guy,” said Jamie Hodson, director of business and hockey operations for the Oil Caps. “He’s hard to play against and he’s not afraid to get into the corners. He’ll eventually bring that dynamic to our team. When you get into a playoff run, that’s the type of individual who can make a difference.”
Cook put forth a solid effort at Oil Caps training camp in the fall and to his credit, played his way into management’s discussions on whether he should have an extended stay with Virden this year. Ultimately, however it was in Cook’s best interest to go back to the AAA Wheat Kings for his third year with the club.
“They have a good team in Brandon and he’s going to have a lot of opportunity for development this year. He’s going to play a ton of minutes in all situations,” Hodson added.
Troy Leslie, Oil Caps head coach and GM, noticed Cook’s continued development at MJHL Prospects Camp in Winnipeg during the summer while coaching at the event. Character would be one word that comes to mind for Leslie when describing Cook.
“He’s going to come into our program next year and it might be an adjustment off the hop, but he has to bring those same kinds of things he’s doing now, and I think he will,” Leslie said. “You need players who can get to the hard areas of the ice. That’s where a lot of goals are scored, those second and third efforts. He’s a guy who can do those kinds of things.”
When it comes to Cook’s overall career with the AAA Wheat Kings, it’s clear he’s a valuable member of that team. Just ask Oil Caps assistant coach Tyson Ramsey, who was Cook’s head coach last year before joining the Oil Caps in the summer. Ramsey and Cook helped propel Brandon to a Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League championship final appearance against the Winnipeg Wild last season.
“He was relied upon pretty heavily,” Ramsey recalled. “When he was playing his game and doing the things that he does well, he was a super effective part of our group. The ability to play with a little bit of grit and finish body checks was something that was very important for us in getting to the final.”
Although the Wheat Kings fell just short of accomplishing their goal of winning a league title, Cook says just experiencing that playoff run will benefit him in the long run.
“Considering how far we went in the playoffs, it really helped me,” he said. “We’re playing against all the high-end teams in the league. A lot of the players on those teams end up in junior A hockey, so it helps for sure.”
Chris Johnston, the AAA Wheat Kings head coach this season, calls Cook a “hound dog” and for good reason. The feisty forward has four goals and five points in 10 games to go along with 16 penalty minutes so far this season. He had 84 penalty minutes last year and 76 the year before.
“These kinds of players, they hound you, they work you, they hit you, they piss you off because they’re in your face all the time,” he said. “The fact that he does have that many penalty minutes is because he’s playing on the edge and that’s where he needs to play to be successful at the next level.”
A scout’s take
Brian Elder, Oil Caps scout, says Cook’s playing style is comparable to that of Zach Hyman of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“He goes and does all the grunt work and sometimes doesn’t get the glory but if you go and watch him, you definitely appreciate his game because of his work ethic,” Elder said. “He’s just that prototypical hard-nosed power forward that I think every team wants to have in their lineup.”
When he’s not at the rink…
Cook enjoys skiing in the winter and likes to head to the Asessippi Ski Area and Resort when he’s got some free time. He also likes to golf in the summer.