Cool Runnings

Pittsburgh Native’s NHL Dreams Forged In The Steel City, Honed At NTDP

For Logan Cooley, hockey has always been a family affair. 

 

Growing up in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Mifflin, Cooley was influenced at an early with the passion and admiration his family had for the game and knew that it was a lifestyle he wanted to pursue for himself.

 

“My whole family all grew up around hockey,” said Cooley, whose brother Eric played at Ohio State University. “They all got me into it with their passion for the game and how they enjoy it. It just made me want to do what they were doing.” 

 

Many fans know the name Logan Cooley from his success with Team USA internationally and with the U.S. National Team Development Program. Others know him as the highest ranking American heading into this year’s NHL draft. But in his hometown, the 17-year-old center has been somewhat of a household name since he first started in Sidney Crosby’s Little Pens program and advancing with the Pens Elite.

 

“I played for them for a couple years and it’s obviously where I developed most before coming to the NTDP,” Cooley said. “I think just the way they run it, the coaches they have, the off-ice facilities they have are second to none.”

 

From there it was onto Plymouth, Mich., where Cooley took pride in wearing the USA crest while honing his skills alongside some of the top talent in the country.

 

With the rigorous USHL and collegiate schedule, mixed with the international competition and being invited to the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, Cooley had to find ways to handle being pulled a million different directions.  

 

“Being at the NTDP has trained me to handle all these things. I mean that’s why you come here, but especially getting the invite to World Juniors that’s a huge accomplishment for me and something I was really happy to do,” he said. 

 

“Obviously, I wish we would have been there a little longer, but it was a good experience and I had a fun time with a great group of guys.”

With the puck about to drop on the IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship in Kaufbeuren and Landshut, Germany, Cooley and the rest of his USA teammates are ready to take the next step from last year’s fifth-place finish in Frisco, Texas.

 

“It was a fun experience just being in Dallas and in such a nice area,” said Cooley, who had two assists in five games. “Obviously, we didn’t get the result we wanted but it made me hungry to come back again this year with this group of guys. I think we have the right group to be successful and I’m excited.”

 

In preparation for his second go-around in this tournament, Cooley is able to offer some advice to his younger teammates on what to expect at this level of competition.

 

“As a person, I think not letting all the outside noise really get to me [is important]. I just need to focus on my game. Team wise, we all know how to play the right way,” Cooley explained. “It’ll just be carrying the stuff that coach has taught us for the past two years now. Our game is fast, we like to play hard and if we do those few things then we’ll like our outcome.”

 

What makes this tournament so unique to Cooley is not because it is the last event of his NTDP career, but because it is the last adventure he and his teammates will embark on after two seasons together.

 

“We’re coming here to win a gold medal, but this is our last run with this group of guys and I could probably say I’ll call these guys brothers for the rest of my life,” said Cooley, who comes into the tournament with 23 goals and 40 assists in 43 games with the NTDP. “I think just going to battle with them and working for that gold medal.”

 

As he speaks of staying close with his NTDP brothers, Cooley looks forward to being a part of the incoming class at the University of Minnesota with current teammates Jimmy Snuggerud, Cruz Lucius and Ryan Chesley this Fall.

 

With names like Brock Faber and Matthew Knies, who Cooley played alongside at World Juniors, announcing their return to the Gophers, a back-to-back run for the Frozen Four is in sight.

 

“The team we will have I think can be really special. I think we can make a run really far in the playoffs and hopefully win a National Championship,” he said.

 

Before he makes his way to playing at 3M Arena in Minneapolis, the next stop on his tour is Montreal for the 2022 NHL Draft where Cooley and his family hope to celebrate all the hard work that has been put in on and off the ice. 

 

“It’s something that I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid, getting drafted into the NHL. I’ve seen some of the other names and it’s pretty cool to see that I’m up there that high,” Cooley said. 

 

“There is still a lot of work to be done after that but to hopefully be drafted would be a huge honor for me and my family. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.” 

 

Sidney Binger is the 2021-22 Brian Fishman Fellow.

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