In case of emergency, call a Cougar

Alumnus Colin Cooper tells us about his experience being the emergency goalie during the Feb. 1 Battle of Alberta game



Alumnus Colin Cooper during his time as a Cougars athlete 

There's a rarely used, but rather vital rule in the National Hockey League (NHL). It's NHL rule 5.3, which states "In regular League and Playoff games, if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible." Here in Calgary, that goalkeeper has been alumnus and former Cougars athlete Colin Cooper (Bachelor of Business Administration ― General Management, minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 2019) for the past two years.

Following the fight that erupted at the always-heated Battle of Alberta on Saturday, Feb. 1 between Edmonton's starting goaltender, Mike Smith, and Calgary's backup, Cam Talbot, we caught up with Cooper to hear what it was like to strap on his pads  in case of emergency.

Being a Cougar

Q: Tell us about your time at MRU, both as a Cougars athlete and as a student. What did you most enjoy?

A: Being a student athlete at MRU was an incredible experience. I was able to pursue my degree while continuing to play the sport I love. Through my Cougars teammates, I had a built-in support system and a friend group right off the bat. It made university fun and although it was challenging to balance it all, it has equipped me with a lot of great skills. My favorite part of being a Cougar was the late-night study sessions with the guys and having that hockey brotherhood. 

Q: What’s your favourite memory as a Cougar?

A: There are so many great memories with teammates and friends, but it would have to be my first Crowchild Classic. It was just a surreal moment and the crowd was so loud. I still get chills thinking about it. 

Q: What have you been up to since becoming an alumnus?

A: I have been coaching and mentoring young athletes in the Calgary area, mainly focusing on goalie development and also advising young elite athletes. 

Becoming the emergency goalie 

Flames-jersey-for-web.jpgAlumnus Colin Cooper, former Cougars athlete, with the Flames jersey he keeps in case of emergency

Q: How do you go about becoming an NHL emergency backup goalie?

A: I started the role in my last year at MRU, which I got through some connections. I am pretty fortunate to have this opportunity. 

Q: How does it work?

A: I attend every game and sit in the press box on the Flames side. I leave my gear in my vehicle unless an emergency situation comes up. If I were to be put into a game, I believe it is just a PTO-type contract. I have not gotten into a game yet, so I am not sure how that would go down. The fact that I get to go to every game is great in itself!

Q: There were some half-joking tweets by local media about how you were the emergency back up for both teams that night. How nervous were you when you saw Edmonton's starter and Calgary's backup get ejected?

A: I was more excited than nervous, to be honest! It is always pretty chaotic when you have to get dressed but it would be an unbelievable experience to get into a game. 

Q: How many times a year might you be the emergency back up?

A: I’m at every game, but I've only had to dress for four games in my two years.

Q: How do you think you would have done if you had to go in?

A: I would like to think I would have held my own out there! I think whichever team I went in for would have stepped up defensively and helped me out. Then it would just be about making that first save. Of course, that level of play is the best in the world so I would just be excited to get out there and experience that.

Q: How do you keep yourself in playing shape these days?

A: I really enjoyed the fitness aspect of playing sports so I still train pretty hard and hold myself accountable. A lot of that is because of coaching and being active for a lot of the day. Also, just being in the emergency back up position always gives me that motivation to always be ready in case anything ever happens.


Did you know that alumni get an exclusive discount on tickets to check out current Cougars athletes (before they make it to the show)? Learn more about your alumni perks.

February 5. 2020 ― Julie Macdonald and Geoff Crane