Sunday, April 21, 2024

Wenatchee Junior “A” alumni Morton, Cooley climb in pro ranks

Cooley advances to NHL as Morton reaches AHL, earns Hobey Baker finalist recognition

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WENATCHEE – A pair of Wenatchee Wild alumni are adding their names to the list of the top players to ever suit up in the Wenatchee Valley. Goaltender Devin Cooley recently made his National Hockey League debut with the San Jose Sharks, while forward Sam Morton has signed his first professional contract with the Calgary Flames, and also received a major recognition for his collegiate play Wednesday. Both played in Wenatchee during the organization’s Junior “A” era, with Cooley and Morton playing together for the Wild in the British Columbia Hockey League during the 2016-17 season.

Cooley stepped onto the ice for his first NHL game on Sunday, taking the loss for the Sharks in a 5-2 decision at the Chicago Blackhawks. The native of Los Gatos, California, just southwest of San Jose, made 26 saves for his hometown team in the contest. This is the fourth professional season for Cooley, going 6-6-2 for the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans prior to being traded to San Jose by the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline.

He won seven games during the regular season for the Wild as part of the team’s run to the Ron Boileau Memorial Trophy for the BCHL’s top regular-season record in 2016-17, and appeared in two playoff games for the team that year as well. He becomes the third Wenatchee Wild player from its Junior “A” era, from 2008 to 2023, to reach the NHL. Nic Dowd played in Wenatchee as part of the team’s inaugural 2008-09 campaign, and is nearing the 500-game mark with the Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals. Jasper Weatherby spent two years in Wenatchee and has 50 games of NHL experience, also with San Jose.

Morton finds himself just a step away from the NHL after being signed by the Calgary Flames on Monday and assigned to the Calgary Wranglers, their AHL affiliate. Hailing from Lafayette, Colorado, he logged a shot on goal and his first pro point Tuesday, assisting on the eventual game-winner in a 2-1 victory over the Bakersfield Condors. He played two-and-a-half seasons for Wenatchee, notching 110 points and helping the team win both the BCHL’s 2017 regular-season title and the league’s Fred Page Cup as 2018 playoff champions.

The whirlwind continued Wednesday for Morton, with his inclusion among the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top player in college hockey. Morton had already been named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s Player of the Year, setting a new career-high with a conference-best 34 points in 37 games for Minnesota State University. He played in 144 career NCAA games for the Mavericks and Union College, totaling 47 goals and 42 assists. 10 finalists were announced Wednesday for the Hobey Baker Award, with the winner of this year’s award to be announced April 11.

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