Cooper scores John Reid award
St. Albert Sabre honoured for heart and hustle at John Reid bantam AAA tournament
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 06:00 am
Ryan Cooper looked like a deer caught in the headlights when his name was announced as the winner of the John Reid Memorial Award for heart and hustle.
“I was a little bit in shock. I didn’t know what to do,” said Cooper, a centre with the St. Albert Gregg Distributors Sabres. “I was surprised because I thought one of the other guys was going to get it.”
The award is presented annually at the John Reid Memorial Tournament banquet to the Sabre who symbolizes the person and hockey player Reid was. The competitive, high-scoring forward for the St. Albert Saints and Sherwood Park Crusaders in the Alberta Junior Hockey League and the Alberta Golden Bears also helped shaped the lives of countless athletes as a dedicated minor hockey and lacrosse coach in St. Albert.
Reid died of leukemia at age 41 on Nov. 6, 2003 and the next year the St. Albert bantam AAA tournament was renamed in his memory.
“It’s a great award. John Reid was such a great guy,” Cooper said. “I’ve met the Reid family because my friend lives on their block.”
Previous winners were Jake Warawa, Joshua Perrott, Tyler Mrkonjic, Jake Mykitiuk, Jed Groenenboom, Josh Winquist, Ryan Harrison, Steve Wall, Blaine Bokenfohr and Nate Fleming.
Cooper, 14, plans to prominently display the award on his bedroom desk.
“It’s one of the best awards I’ve won,” he said. “In peewee AA I won a most goals award but the John Reid award is way better.”
Cooper, a feisty five-foot-seven skater with good wheels who contributes offensively, was the team’s top point producer in the tournament with four in five games. Both his goals were scored on the power play.
“I could’ve played better and used my speed a lot more but otherwise it was a good tournament for myself,” said the Grade 9 Sir George Simpson student.
Cooper’s last game – one goal in Sunday’s 6-2 loss to the Calgary Bisons – was the best of the bunch.
“I used my speed a lot, I created chances and I used my teammates a lot,” said the Sabres’ player of the game against the Bisons and in the 5-4 loss to the Winnipeg Monarchs with two assists in Thursday’s tournament opener.
The Sabres finished 0-4-1 (nine goals scored and 18 against) at the 36th annual tournament. Two losses were decided by one goal, including an overtime decision in Saturday’s playoff round.
“We had a few tough losses,” Cooper said. “I guess the effort wasn’t there.”
The Sabres had one day to regroup after the tournament before returning to league play Tuesday against the Canadian Athletic Club. The score from Bill Hunter Arena wasn’t available at press time.
The Sabres (14-9-4) trailed second-place CAC (17-8-2) by four points in the nitro north standings.
“We just have to focus on the league now,” said Cooper.
His 26 points in 26 games for the Sabres was one less than team-leader Aidan Steinke and his 12 goals were second to Jack Langenhahn’s 13 on the Sabres.
Cooper also led the team in power-play goals with four and penalty minutes with 56.
“It’s been pretty good,” Cooper said of his first season as a Sabre. “Aidan Steinke and myself are always in a race for points. He’s one ahead of me right now. It’s fun competition.”