Defenseman Bryce Cooper participated in the USA Hockey U16 National Player Development Camp in New York, where he also made the event's all-star team. Photo courtesy of Colorado Rampage
The Colorado Hockey Hub's Candace Horgan caught up with Cooper after he had returned from the camp and talked with him about some of his favorite memories from the experience, as well as what he hopes to take from the camp to his play next season.
Colorado Hockey Hub: Could you tell me what the most memorable moment of the camp was? What's the one moment that you are kind of playing over and over in your head?
Bryce Cooper: Well, they had a big screen and they were naming off all the kids who made the all-star game, so probably that. That's pretty cool.
CO Hockey Hub: You played on the All-Star Blue team, right? What was that all-star game like?
BC: Super fast, super physical. Everybody there had it as a goal. It was just a great environment overall.
CO Hockey Hub: Tell me about playing for the Rampage. How long have you been playing for them? It seems you have pretty much been with them since the beginning of your hockey career, right?
BC: Yes, I have been playing for them my whole life. Everything there is great — great coaches, great environment, great place to play. I haven't had one bad team; not one team I haven't liked. Not every season has been a winning season, but every season has been super fun. I love the environment, just being able to come in almost whenever I want, work out whenever I want, and just get the best training I can get.
CO Hockey Hub: Can you tell me what your first memory of playing is? Do you remember how old you were and what drew you to the sport?
BC: I don't really remember that. My dad told me that we were walking through the mall, and there was an ice skating rink, and my brother wanted to go ice skating. So, we both tried it, we liked it a ton, and we started to play hockey, and have played ever since.
"I have. A lot of people called me crazy because I hadn't gone out before, but last year was my first year. I love skiing."
CO Hockey Hub: Do you have a favorite subject in school? Is there anything you like studying in school?
BC: Not really. It just depends on who is in my class and the teacher. Last year, I really liked math class.
CO Hockey Hub: Has it been hard so far to juggle the responsibilities of playing on a top junior team and doing some traveling to play hockey with your schoolwork?
BC: No, I worked a lot of it out with my school. It's quite a bit more work than the average kid would do in school, but I keep up with my grades. I keep up with everything, actually.
CO Hockey Hub: Who's your favorite pro player? Do you have one?
BC: [Colorado Avalanche defenseman] Cale Makar, I think. Actually, we'll go with [Colorado Avalanche defenseman] Tyson Barrie.
CO Hockey Hub: What drew you to playing defense in the first place? I mean, a lot of people like to score goals when they start; can you remember when you first started playing D and what you liked about it?
BC: I was actually a forward, and then with my shot, my coach just put me back at D and I just kind of got hooked on it. [On defense] you get the puck more, you see the ice more. You're more of a quarterback than a running back. You're the one making plays up the ice and moving the puck, rather than doing everything else. When breaking out the puck, you're the one who starts the breakout. I think I've had the most puck time back at defense.
CO Hockey Hub: Being on the travel team, you probably don't get too much time off. But if you could take a two-month vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
BC: I'd go to Italy for all of the food.
CO Hockey Hub: What was the last concert you went to? Have you been to Red Rocks?
BC: Yeah, I have. Probably Luke Bryant, but it was a while ago, a long while ago.
CO Hockey Hub: What is your favorite recreational thing to do? Do you go to the movies? Do you like read books, play music, go to concerts, go hiking?
BC: I like the mountains. We have a cabin — I love it up there. I'm there almost every other weekend fishing, exploring, ATV-ing. I just love everything up there. A lot of fishing, though.
CO Hockey Hub: I already asked about memories, but was there anything that you felt you learned from the camp that you're looking forward to bringing back to your play with the Rampage?
BC: Oh, just playing the right way, moving the puck fast. Just speed and intensity. Also, there's all the extras — like showing respect, [saying] please and thank yous. All the other kids there — including me — already do that, but just how important that is and what it shows.
CO Hockey Hub: I would imagine you're starting to consider options for college. Do you have any schools on the radar that you're hoping to apply to? Is there any school that you might want to play for?
BC: The Minnesota [Golden] Gophers, University of Denver and North Dakota. Those will be the top three.