Living the dream

Cooper Black named to MHSHCA Dream Team

Alpena goaltender Cooper Black follows a puck during a high school hockey game this past season against Detroit Country Day at the Otsego County SportsPlex in Gaylord. On Wednesday, the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association awarded Black as its goalie on the Dream Team.

This past high school hockey season for the Alpena Wildcats has been described as magical and a dream season.

For one Wildcat in particular, his dream has become a reality.

On Wednesday night, Cooper Black was named to the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association Dream Team for the 2018-2019 high school hockey season.

Black’s dream season came as more of a nightmare for his opponents as would-be goal scorers did their best all season to try and crack the 6-6 senior goaltender, but many failed to get pucks past Black as he was arguably the best goalie in the state this season.

“It’s surreal. I didn’t expect to get picked because there are a lot of good goalies around the state. This honor definitely goes to my team,” Black said. “Despite this being awarded to a goaltender, my team had so much to do with the success we had this season. We were such a talented group and my teammates helped a lot doing the little things like playing great defense in front of me and blocking shots. I can’t stress enough how important my team was to my overall success this year.”

Black awaits a shot during a hockey game against Detroit Country Day. The senior goaltender was arguably the best net minder in the state and led all goalies in three different categories during Alpena’s stellar season.

Black becomes the first player in Alpena hockey history to earn MHSHCA Dream Team honors.

Black joins an elite group of skaters on this years Dream Team as the MHSHCA voted on five of the best players at their position across Divisions 1, 2 and 3 to make up this years Dream Team.

Along with Black, forwards Ryan Clemons (Detroit Catholic Central), Gage Thrall (Davison), Joey Larson (Hartland), defensemen Brendan Miles (Detroit Catholic Central) and Tim Erkkila (Brighton) make up the 2018-2019 Michigan High School Hockey Dream Team.

Black was as cool, calm and confident as ever in the net this season. He allowed just 19 goals in 26 games this season, stopping 509 of the 528 shots he faced.

Black led the state in multiple categories with a .964 Save Percentage, a 0.87 Goals Against Average and shut outs with eight.

His eight shut outs also set a new school record, breaking the previous mark of seven.

Black also began the season with five straight shut outs as he and his team were on a roll and their stellar play continued throughout the rest of the season.

“It was an amazing season. Our leadership was huge this year, along with our overall confidence and I think that’s one thing we lacked last year was confidence,” Black said. “Personally, coach (Chris) Limback helped me tremendously and just told me I needed to be confident in myself and stressed it throughout the year. As special as the records and individual achievements are, hockey is a team game and it’s special that we were all able to be apart of several special accomplishments.”

Black was a pivotal piece in Alpena’s historic season as the Wildcats tied a school record for wins in a season, finishing the year with a 23-5-1 record, which included games and victories over some of the top teams in the state across all three divisions.

“I’ve never seen a guy get more buzz than what Cooper did throughout the year. He took control of the position and he was just so solid and gave us a chance to win every game,” Alpena coach Chris Limback said. “Cooper grew just like the rest of the team. The progress he made from his junior year to his senior year was just remarkable and I think it all started when he began to gain confidence and realize he was as good as anyone and he certainly backed it up.”

Black finished with a record of 22-3-1 and allowed more than three goals in a game just twice over the course of the season.

It’s also worth mentioning that Black was pulled late in three games in which he had a shut out intact.

“It’s an amazing honor for everyone. Any time you can bring more attention to youth hockey in Alpena or just hockey in northern Michigan is special,” Limback said. “I am so proud, Cooper should be proud, the team should be proud and the school and community should also be proud. It’s so special to see what this group has been able to do for the school and community and Cooper earning this honor is just so special.”

Despite Black’s Wildcat career being over, his young hockey career may be just getting started as Black has been in contact with several junior hockey programs and hopes to continue playing hockey and stopping pucks at junior hockey level.

Not only was Black’s dream season good enough to earn him honors among Michigan hockey’s elite high school players, but Black may arguably go down as one of the best goalies ever to strap on the pads for the green and white.

“To leave a mark in Alpena is special and to be the first one in Alpena hockey history to earn this type of honor is just so surreal,” Black said. “I’m just so fortunate to have been apart of such a special team that left a positive mark on Alpena High School and the community of Alpena.”