Though he’d probably never admit it, there had to have been a time when Tanner Cochrane thought he was done.
Maybe after sustaining a serious injury during last year’s playoff series versus Prince George.
Maybe during the long months off skates.
He was 20 years old and out of hockey.
But the one thing to know about Cochrane is that there’s no quit in this guy.
Knock him down and he keeps coming back.
“I had one of the toughest summers I’ve never thought I’d have to go through something like that,” he said. “So to be back in Chilliwack is really rewarding. Playing alongside my little brother (super-rookie Carter Cochrane) is really special and I’ll never forget it.”
As recently as mid-December the Kamloops kid was toiling for the junior B North Okanagan Knights, dominating overmatched opponents to the tune of 11 goals, 17 points and 59 penalty minutes in 13 games.
When veteran Chiefs D-man Cody Bardock was sidelined a couple weeks by injury, Chilliwack head coach and general manager Harvey Smyl had an opening to get Cochrane back.
He had an assist in his BCHL return, a 7-2 home-ice loss to Prince George Dec. 16.
He’s tallied five goals and 10 points in 12 games, but his true value goes well beyond the score-sheet.
Cochrane is a case study in ‘bringing it.’
Smyl know what he’ll get from the winger every shift of every game. Win or lose, Cochrane provides intensity, physical play and a won’t-back-down approach that is contagious. Because of that, he now wears the captain’s C vacated when Austin Plevy was traded away.
“I’m just trying to do what the guys before me did, and show the young kids what it’s like to be a Chilliwack Chief,” he said. “Show them the intensity that’s required day in and day out. With hard work you never know what can happen.”
Cochrane had three goals in Chilliwack’s most recent game, a wild 7-7 home-ice draw versus West Kelowna.
His Chiefs rallied from a 5-2 deficit and led 7-5 before coughing up two goals in the final minute.
“Any time you get 14 goals in a game, all the guys get on the score-sheet and the fans have a great time,” he said. “We really wanted to get two points and having the lead blow up like that is tough. But the effort was there tonight, and we’ve just got to work on getting more points and catching Surrey.”
Yeah. About that.
The Chiefs collected two points in the tie with West Kelowna and a 5-4 overtime loss in Langley Friday. But they still trail the Eagles by 14 points for the final playoff spot in the Mainland division.
“You’ve always got to battle and hope, keep a positive mind-set and never feel like we’re out of it until they tell us we’re out of it,” Cochrane said. “We’ve still got four games against Surrey and there’s no doubt in our minds that we can catch them.”
Two of those Eagle games are this weekend as the teams square off in a home-and-home.
Chilliwack is in Surrey Friday.
They host the Eagles Saturday night at Prospera Centre with a 7 p.m. start.
See bchl.ca for more.