Los Gatos native, Jr. Sharks grad Cooley the cat’s meow for NCAA D-I Denver
During the 2017-18 season, Devin Cooley only played parts of three games for the University of Denver.
Entering November, the Los Gatos native, San Jose Jr. Sharks graduate and DU sophomore had already played four full games for the NCAA Division I powerhouse Pioneers as the team’s starting goalie.
“I think myself and the team are off to a great start,” Cooley said. “I’m feeling really confident about all the young guys we brought in as well as the way our upperclassmen have been playing. Obviously for me not getting a start in over a year and a half, it was a pretty big transition and my nerves were through the roof, but each game I’ve been feeling more and more comfortable and confident.
“It’s definitely a learning process getting used to the difference of speed and the mental side of games compared to practice and I’m just trying to learn as much as I can each time I’m in net, trying to play the best way I know how to.”
Last season, Cooley watched as senior Tanner Jaillet played 39 games for DU. Cooley played a grand total of 20 minutes. Still, Cooley found numerous positives to the 2017-18 campaign.
“It was really great,” said Cooley. “Tanner’s attention to detail, both on and off the ice, was incredible. As a smaller goalie, the way he was able to minimize his movements and read the plays before they happened was pretty crazy to be able to watch. What he was good at was exactly what I wanted to add to my game, so being able to watch him every day played a huge role in my development.”
And it’s Cooley’s development that has been stunning as well.
“No one in my family had ever played hockey before, so it was kind of an interesting process getting started,” said Cooley. “My older brother (Ryan) was in Boy Scouts and my mom (Heynia) was the Boy Scout leader and for one of their field trips, they decided to go to an ice rink to do public skating. I was around four at the time and too young to be left home alone, so my mom decided to take me with them. I went out on the ice and I picked up skating really quickly. It just came really easy to me.
“My parents saw this and decided that they needed to do something about it but didn’t think there was any hockey programs in the area. They looked around and found the youth programs at Sharks Ice (then known as Logitech) and enrolled me for the next year. Goalie always seemed super interesting to me and I was able to borrow pads and play a couple games for my house team as well as in roller hockey during the summer. When I was eight, my dad (Scott) bought me my own set of pads and I never looked back.
Cooley played for the Jr. Sharks his entire 13-year youth career – from when he was five in the house hockey programs all the way to 18U AAA.
“Coaches that stand out to me are Tyler Shaffar, Mike Janda, Kyle McLaren and Curtis Brown,” said Cooley. “All of these guys were extremely knowledgeable about the sport, so for me coming from a family that knew nothing about hockey or what paths to take, they played a huge role in steering me in the right direction.”
After his youth career, Cooley played for the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks, NAHL’s Springfield Jr. Blues and BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild.
Moving forward and developing, on and off the ice, is the top priority for Cooley, who is majoring in Real Estate and minoring in Finance at DU.
“I’ve been able to balance hockey and school pretty well so far, but it’s for sure a ton of work,” Cooley said. “Hockey wise, I’m just trying to work as hard as possible and take things one game at a time.”
DU photo/Linneya Gardner/University of Denver; Jr. Sharks photo/NAHL
— Matt Mackinder
(Nov. 19, 2018)