Cooper Black honored to be drafted by USHL Omaha Lancers
ALPENA — After a storied high school career and record-breaking senior season, there was no doubt former Alpena High School Wildcat goalie Cooper Black was bound for continued success between the pipes.
On Tuesday, Black was drafted in the sixth round by the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) and selected 81st overall in the Phase II draft.
“Cooper was a player I was intrigued by early in the season, when I saw him at the North American League Showcase, and our scouting staff stayed on him throughout the year,” Kirk Luedeke, assistant general manager and director of hockey operations for Omaha Lancers, said. “He possesses a rare combination of pure size and fluid agility/athleticism that is so crucial to success at the position. He had an impressive first junior season and is a player we feel is going to be an excellent fit for our organization and the league. He’s excited to get started on his USHL career, and so are we.”
After finishing his senior season on a high note, earning Dream Team honors and being recognized as the best goalie in the state, Black went on to play for the Maryland Black Bears of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).
Black put together a remarkable rookie season and was statistically the Black Bears’ top option in net as he led Maryland in Goals Against Average (2.58), Save Percentage (.916) and tied for the team lead in wins (9) and shutouts (2) while finishing his rookie season with a 9-6 record.
Black moves up from a Tier 2 junior NAHL to the Tier 1 junior USHL.
“Being drafted is an awesome opportunity to move up to Tier 1 hockey,” Black said. “Obviously, there’s no guarantees and you still have to make the team. As a kid, you always look up to those guys watching them play. So it’s pretty surreal to actually have it happen to you. My experience with the Maryland Black Bears was great. Maryland is truly a first-class organization and I couldn’t have had a better group of guys for my first year. Everything was awesome. Coach Mylamok and Gotkins helped me grow throughout the season.”
Black finished his high school career with a 22-3-1 overall record and led the state in multiple categories, with a .964 save percentage, a 0.87 goals against average, and recorded eight shutouts, while allowing just 19 goals in 26 games and stopping 509 of the 528 shots he faced.
For his efforts, Black was named to the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association Dream Team for the 2018-2019 high school hockey season and was the first player in Alpena hockey history to earn MHSHCA Dream Team honors.
Like so many athletes around the nation, Black had the rest of his opportunities taken away from him this season because of the coronavirus pandemic that closed schools and canceled sporting events worldwide.
The Black Bears were locked into a playoff spot before the pandemic hit and the rest of the season was eventually canceled.
Despite the shortened season, Black did plenty with limited time in Maryland and did enough to garner the attention of scouts and coaches in Omaha, where Black was drafted.
Black was home with family when he got the call from his advisor and, shortly after, Black was onto the next stage in his promising career.
“I was honored when Omaha drafted me,” he said. “The coach reached out to me and now my next step is to make the team. My expectations for wherever I end up is to work as hard as possible and continue to improve and hopefully reach my goal of a D1 scholarship.”
The story continues for Black.
His talent and passion continues to pave the way for a special career and one he is determined to continue for as long as he can, in hopes of eventually playing collegiately at the Division 1 level and being the best in net, no matter where he is or who he’s playing for.
“I’d like to thank my parents for allowing me to peruse my passion,” he said. “They’ve gone through a lot to get me to tryouts, practices, and games. Whether that be money or time, it’s just a huge commitment on their part. I’d also like to thank my coaches and teammates throughout the years. I wouldn’t be here without them.”