Huntington Beach native Haar decides on NCAA D-I Canisius for ’20-21
In the eight years since his LA Selects 1999 team won the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament, Cooper Haar has watched one teammate after another from that team go on to bigger things.
For starters, four players became NHL draft picks and another (Cayla Barnes) won an Olympic gold medal. Others have started college careers.
In late February, it was Haar’s turn.
“You don’t think about it at the time when you’re 12, but you look back and realize what an amazing group that was,” said Haar, who has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Canisius College (Atlantic Hockey).
The commit came in Haar’s fourth season of junior hockey, a journey that has taken him to four teams in two leagues.
“It’s great to see him get rewarded,” said Shawn Pitcher, his longtime coach with the Selects and the L.A. Jr. Kings. “He stuck with it.”
Haar’s game has come together since being traded to the NAHL’s Aberdeen Wings earlier this season. Haar, who also played for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, had 42 points (17 goals, 25 assists) through 46 games.
“I had lacked a bit of confidence until I got here,” Haar said. “Coach (Scott) Langer has instilled that in me. He relies on me to put up points and be a leader in the locker room. That’s what I’ve tried to do.”
Canisius is getting a player who brings size (6-foot-3, 209 pounds), skill and a high hockey IQ, Pitcher said.
“’Coop’ was always a bigger kid, and it can take more time for them to develop,” he said. “From an early age, you could see he was smart with the puck and had a lot of potential. The other thing is he’s a good kid and a good teammate who always plays hard.”
Haar, who is taking 12 credits of online college courses this semester, is excited to resume taking classes in person this fall, even if it is more than 2,500 miles from his hometown of Huntington Beach.
“Canisius is a great opportunity for me,” he said. “Buffalo is a good area, and the school is very good academically. Those were important factors.”
— Chris Bayee
(March 16, 2020)