Cole Haukaas first laced up his skates when he was a young boy and his goal was to play junior hockey since that day. Now, the former Parkland Ranger is sure doing that. Cole's in his first year of junior with the OCN Blizzard.
"Things are going well here. I love playing in my hometown, I haven't for a while so that part has been great," added Haukaas. "Things started off rough with some injuries at the start of the season and that held me back quite a bit. Things are starting to pick back up here now and I think good things are on the way."
Before this year with OCN, the 18-year-old played the past two seasons with the Midget Rangers. Cole was a regular with the team suiting up in 93 games where he racked up 20 points. He also helped the team qualify for the playoffs in his first season with the club.
"The Rangers is a great program. It really helped me pick up my foot movement," said Haukaas. "I learned what it takes to play in the d-zone and I wouldn't be where I am without the coaches that showed me so much."
As it is for most, making the jump from AAA hockey to junior hockey is not an easy one. Can you imagine going from playing guys your age and even two years younger to playing guys who are a couple years older than you?
"I mean it's definitely a big change in pace and how fast the game is," said Haukaas. "The guys are a lot bigger and stronger in junior and it's not as easy to move guys. It hasn't been easy but I think I have a pretty good handle on it now."
The 18-year-old has played in 35 games this season with OCN, in which he's put up eight points (1G). Overall, for a team that hasn't scored a lot this season, Cole is putting together a very nice first season of junior hockey and he's looking forward to making even more noise going forward.
"It's my first year so I'm not really focusing on points, I'm just trying to learn more about the game and what it's like playing in junior," said Haukaas. "Next year though, I'm definitely hoping to pick up that end of the game. I have high expectations for myself moving forward."
OCN is also known for having a wicked crowd. The stands aren't quite as packed as they were back in the day, but still. Even if they have 300 people in the stands, the noise in the Gordon Lathlin is awesome as most players who play there know.
"The crowd here is incredible," said Haukaas. "There's nothing quite like playing in front of the crowd here, they're such a big boost and especially when we win games." 12 of OCN's 17 wins this season have come on home ice.
Cole and the Blizzard are currently on their final road trip of the season. They're in Waywayseecappo tonight and pay a visit to Credit Union Place tomorrow. Tomorrow's game in Dauphin is OCN's final road game of the season.