Lacrosse lessons helping Cooper Moore adapt to BCHL hockey

The rookie Chilliwack Chiefs defenceman has benefited greatly from playing two sports.

In the ongoing debate over whether to have your child play one sport or play many sports, put Cooper Moore down as a vote for diversity.

While many hockey players go laser-focus on their chosen sport from a young age, Moore has played lacrosse all the way up the ladder.

While the 18 year old starred on defence for his prep school hockey team last fall, he also earned All-League recognition with a Brunswick School Bruins squad that went 16-1 in 2018 and was ranked fifth nationally.

“One thing that I bring from lacrosse is my offensive ability,” Moore said at a Chiefs practice last week. “In lacrosse I’m more of a middie goal-scorer who likes to make plays happen, and that’s helped me develop an attacking mindset.

“It’s also helped with my overall athletic ability. It’s helped me stay fast on the ice and it’s helped me with endurance because a middie spends a lot of time running up and down the field.”

Moore, a Connecticut native, said he was never too depressed when hockey season ended because he knew lacrosse was waiting.

“It helped me take a break from hockey, take my mind off it and do something else, while staying active and not just taking time off,” he said. “And as soon as lacrosse ended, I was excited to get back into skates.”

“I’d say 100 times out of 100, play different sports to see what you’re best at and see what you love the most,” he added. “You might be better at one sport, but if you love another one more I’d say stick with that one because if you love it, you’re going to want to stay out on the ice or the field and get better at it.”

As Moore was going through the pre-draft process before the National Hockey League’s entry draft last June, several talent evaluators questioned him about the lacrosse.

None of them questioned his commitment to hockey.

“A bunch of them asked me about it, and why I stuck with it so long,” Moore recalled. “So it was definitely a topic of conversation, but everyone seemed to love that I played two sports.”

Chiefs head coach/GM Brian Maloney said he can see Moore’s lacrosse background in the way that he picks pucks out of the air, and he believes lacrosse has given the rookie the foundation for a well-rounded game.

“Most high-end players seem to come up solely concentrating on the offensive side of the game,” he said. “There are other players that come up with a worker mentality to grind it out and compete on every puck, but maybe they’re still growing into their offence.”

“Cooper has that high-end talent, but you can also tell by playing a second sport like lacrosse, he’s competitive and involved in every single battle. Lacrosse is a rough sport and you can tell he doesn’t shy away from that.”

The Detroit Red Wings ended up taking Moore in the fifth round.

“When I heard my name called, it was one of the best moments of my life,” the teenager said. “I was surrounded by my family and they were all so excited for me.”

Moore now follows in the skate-steps of Chiefs alum Dennis Cholowski, who was drafted in the first round by Detroit in 2016 and is heading into his second NHL season.

“I’m actually staying in the same billet house that he did,” Moore said with a grin.

While both players are point producers from the blueline, and the drafted-by-Detroit angle makes them natural comparables, but Maloney shies away from the obvious connection.

“I think Cooper probably has a little more grit to his game than Dennis,” he offered. “Dennis is a really smooth, calm player who controls the play that way. Cooper might be able to do that in a different way. He might be more of a ‘jam it down your throat’ sort of player with more of an edge.

“But it’s probably not fair to compare the two because they are different players.”

Moore is off to a solid start with two goals in his first four games.

He’ll be off to the University of North Dakota in 2020-21.

eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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