REGINA – After months of rehabilitation, Taylor Cooper is finally making his return to the Regina Pats’ lineup.
The overager met with media on Friday afternoon and with a big smile announced he’ll make his season debut Sunday against the Prince Albert Raiders.
“I am playing Sunday, I’m very excited for it, and I’m ready to go,” he said.
Cooper had surgery to fix a nagging shoulder injury in the offseason, which limited his ability to prepare for the 2015-16 campaign.
Pats harmonizing on road trip
“It’s a little different not being able to train in the summer and not being able to skate as much. Now I just want to get back into shape,” said Cooper, who’s been skating with the team during practice for a while now. ” I’ve been working pretty hard after practice. A lot of bag skates, extra time on, and hopefully I get right into it.”
“I just want to hop in and do the best I can.”
Cooper admits his rehab was frustrating at times.
“I haven’t been through anything like this before,” explained Cooper. ” Even with the pain when I first started skating, but it got better and better, and now it’s really good.”
“There’ll be another test when you get hit by a defenceman on an opposing team,” said Pats’ head coach and general manager John Paddock.
After 11 games of watching from afar the winger is ready to contribute.
“I just want to hop in and do the best I can you know, help some of the guys, provided some leadership,” said the 19 year old, who turns 20 on November 1st.
Not only does he bring experience to a very young club, but he also provides some offense. Cooper collected 32 points in 27 games with Regina after being acquired from Lethbridge for defenceman Brady Reagan at the trade deadline last season.
“Coops is a scorer,” said Paddock. “It should be a real boost to us.”
Cooper showed great chemistry with Sam Steel, and he’ll slide into the left-wing spot on the Pats’ top line with Steel and rookie Lane Zablocki.
“We always knew that he was going to be coming back to play with him,” said Paddock. ” You know, you’ve got to have some offensive instincts, you’ve got to be able to read off players and stuff like that.
“Not just anybody can play with some creative players and there’s some cases where a creative player can’t necessarily play with a creative player, but they seemed to have good chemistry before so we’re looking forward to it being renewed.”
Pats Sign Richards
The Queen City Kids also announced the team has signed forward Sean Richards to a standard WHL player agreement and he joins the team immediately.
Richards was listed by the Pats in 2014 and is in his second year of junior hockey after playing in the AJHL as a 16 year old last season. In 56 games with the Olds Grizzlys he posted 11 points and 63 penalty minutes and he was off to a great start this season with seven points in his first 14 games before joining the Pats.
“He’s a good skater, he seems like he’s very competitive. He’s just another young player we feel is going to grow with the majority of our group,” Paddock said when asked about the team’s newest player.
The St. Albert, AB product had been mulling over his options, which included the NCAA, but in the end decided on Regina.
“It was a tough decision coming out of the (AJHL) and ditching my team kind of, but I thought it was the right decision for me and my career,” said Richards.
“We explained the program, where we’re at, some of the stuff that’s happened in the last year, and he decided to come,” said Paddock.
Richards will wear number 15.
The Pats weren’t done there. Forward Trygve Many Guns has been reassigned to the Drumheller Dragons of the AJHL.
The Pats host the Raiders at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.