By Jim den Hollander
Last spring, RWD sophomore goaltender Cooper Oakes helped his high school team get to within a goal of the WIAA Sectional semi-finals.
A three-sport athlete (baseball and now soccer along with ice hockey), ‘Coop’ still finds time over the summer months to attend hockey camps or tryouts while also swinging a bat.
Of course, it was more difficult to find open ice over the crazy summer of 2020, but Oakes was invited to the main camp of the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League, the only Tier 1 league in the USA.
The all-Midwest based league has the top Under 20 players in the nation and being on the radar of that league is a plum for any hockey player. The players who make up the 16 USHL teams almost all sign on to play at Division 1 NCAA schools and an increasing number each season are selected in the NHL Entry Draft before setting foot on a campus.
The experience was a good one for the young goaltender who says he is looking forward to joining his teammates for a deeper push in the WIAA 2021 post season.
While playing as a member of the RAHS varsity soccer team, Oakes and several of his hockey teammates gather at the Lake Delton Ice Arena on Monday and Tuesday nights to sharpen their skills and shake off the summer rust under the guidance of Dells Ducks Assistant Coach Anthony Rohde.
A schedule has yet to be introduced for the 2020-21 varsity hockey season, but Head Coach Neil Mattson, unable to attend the early ‘Captains’ practices will be looking to challenge for the Badger North Conference crown, make some noise in the playoffs and the Coach will achieve a personal goal, hopefully early in the season as he needs three wins to hit the 300-win plateau.