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Pistons Goalie Koop to Play University Hockey Next Year

Steinbach Pistons goaltender Corey Koop is going to play college hockey somewhere. But the 6-foot-2, 195 pound goaltender from Squamish, B.C., still hasn’t made up his mind.

“I have a couple of opportunities on the table, but I think might like to wait for awhile before making a decision,” Koop said on Tuesday night, right before his Pistons beat the Winkler Flyers 5-4 in a terrific hockey game in Winkler that was broadcast province wide on NCI FM radio. “I know I’m going to play somewhere next year, but I’d still like to wait and see if there might be a Division 1 chance in the United States. I have opportunities in Canada and there are some schools who want me to make a decision now, but they can wait just a little longer.”

Corey Koop

Corey Koop

Koop was born and raised in British Columbia, but his parents are Manitobans. His mom, the former Colleen Schellenberg from Steinbach, has been a huge supporter of Corey’s career and when the Neepawa Natives decided it was time to dispatch of a few 20-year-olds in order to stockpile younger players for the future, Koop had an opportunity to move to a city that is loaded with relatives and friends.

“I have nothing bad to say about Neepawa,” Koop said. “The fans there were great, the town was great, the billets were great. There was nothing wrong with Neepawa. It’s just that the hockey team was struggling and they had to make some decisions. I’m glad that I’ve been able to come to Steinbach.

“My grandma is here, I have all sorts of aunts, uncles and cousins here. It’s a great place. I’m really happy with my situation right now.”

Koop played in 31 games with the Winkler Flyers last year, his first season in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. He went 22-10-0 with .900 save percentage and a 3.36 goals against average.

Kop guards the net for the Steinbach Pistons.

Koop guards the net for the Steinbach Pistons.

This year, in 37 games with Neepawa and Steinbach, Koop is 12-25-0 with a goals against average of 3.38 and a save percentage of .919. His save percentage is tops in the MJHL.

“I’ve had a good season,” said Koop, who has often said he’d one day like to be a firefighter. “I know my won-lost record isn’t that good and I know my goals against could be better, but my save percentage is good and I feel I’ve played well.”

He won’t bad mouth the Neepawa Natives, but he knows he was put into a very difficult situation. The hazing scandal of 2011 is long gone, but head coach Ken Brooks still had to rebuild a franchise that was rattled to the core. Brooks has done a nice job, but even he’ll admit that his team is at least a year away.

So while the Natives are 12-33-5, Koop’s numbers suffered along with the team. But his glowing save percentage has caught the eye of a couple of college scouts. After all, he’s a big goaltender who skates well, covers a lot of space, challenges shooters and simply enjoys playing the game. He’s also going to play in the 2013 MJHL playoffs with the Pistons, so there is still some hope that an NCAA school will notice him.

“I’ve already played a lot more games than I did last year and I feel I had a very good first half despite the wins and losses and the goals against,” he said. “This season was a lot better than last year for me. Overall, I’ve felt very strong.”

In the meantime, he’ll keep his options open for next year and he might even make Steinbach home. At least until he decides where he’s going to go to school and play hockey next season.

“I’d like to play college hockey back in B.C., but if I can find a job, I’m going to stay in Steinbach,” he said. “I have so many relatives in Steinbach and my mom gets back here every now and again that it feels like home. And it’s a lot cheaper to live here than it is in B.C. so I’ll be able to save some money for school.”

(Action photos by Adeline Loewen)

Corey Koop.

Corey Koop.

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