Defenseman Brian Cooper of Anchorage, headed to Nebraska-Omaha in the fall as a true freshman following three seasons in the USHL, is one of 105 players invited to NHL Central Scouting's Draft Combine, which begins later this month in Montreal.
Cooper, 18, this season had 6-18--24 and +16 totals in 55 games as captain of the Fargo Force. Though listed at just 5-foot-10, 180 pounds -- and the Combine will get exact height and weight, for it includes physical testing as well as interviews with NHL teams -- he has for years been described to The Blog as a hammer of a hitter and exceptionally strong for his age. The Combine is May 28-June 2, and precedes the NHL draft in Pittsburgh on June 22-23.
In 161 career regular-season games for Fargo, Cooper racked 20-50--70 totals and a +38 rating. In 24 career playoff games, he was 3-6--9 and +9. Solid across the board.
Meanwhile, the USHL's Western Conference finals kicked off Wednesday night, when goaltender Stephon Williams of Fairbanks, who is off to Minnesota State-Mankato in the fall, stopped 32 shots to backstop Waterloo to a 5-2 win at Lincoln in the opener of the best-of-5.
For Lincoln, UAF forward commit Matt Friese of Wasilla fired four shots and was -1; Colorado College-bound forward Jared Hanson of Palmer had two shots and a -1; and defenseman Dax Lauwers of Anchorage had one shot and was -1.