Coers adds skill to Blackhawks blueline
Dylan Coers is ready for the next step up the hockey ladder.
The 17-year-old Port Colborne resident has experience at the AAA level with the Southern Tier Admirals as well as a cup of coffee with the Dunnville Mudcats of the Provincial Junior Hockey League.
Now, the diminutive defenceman is set to test his skills with the Thorold Blackhawks of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“He’s someone who has been APing and been around us for years,” Thorold coach Scott Barnes said. “He’s a kid who we really like and had a bit of a growth spurt and got bigger and stronger.
“He’s ready to play junior B. He’s a smaller-sized defenceman but he’s got offensive skills and good skating ability and good puck-moving skills.”
Barnes said it has been important with a season lost to the COVID pandemic to be as open-minded as possible when assessing players.
“During COVID, a lot of guys put in a lot of work and there were some other guys who weren’t,” he said. “There is such a change in guys year to year — both good and bad.
“Guys surpass people. He’s a guy who’s always been on our radar and someone who has been skating with us since he was four or five so it’s nice to see him get there.”
Coers, a Grade 12 student at Port Colborne High School, is eager to show what he can do at the junior B level.
“I think it’s obviously going to be different than junior C but I think I’ll be able to ease my way into it really well,” he said. “It’s awesome. I’m very excited. I see what Barnes has done with this team so far and how he treats his guys and it’s going to be an amazing experience.”
Coers is listed at 5-foot-8, 146 pounds and comes with a reputation as a player who can generate offence from the back end.
“Offensively as a defenceman, I’m going to be able to get the puck up and be on the power play if needed,” he said. “It’s really important. If you have too many defensive guys you’re not going to have that fourth guy going into the rush, the high guy on the three-on-two or a two-on-one.”
Barnes feels Coers will fit right in on the blueline and give the Hawks an added dimension.
“It’s a tough thing to try and find the right mix,” Barnes said. “We like our D to be able to skate and move pucks. We’re looking for that first and foremost and in Coers’ case the size isn’t really there but that’s where he has to be smart and a good hockey IQ will help.”
Coers recently returned from a two-day stint at camp with the Oshawa Generals.
“It was crazy the way they handle everything and treat everyone was crazy. It was an awesome experience,” he said.
He was blown away at the level of talent in the Ontario Hockey League.
“There was some great players — Brett Harrison, Ty Tullio — they are crazy skaters with wicked shots. The intensity was way up for sure,” he said. “(It shows you) just how much work you have to put in day in and day out. You have to be working hard.”
The Blackhawks are in Fort Erie for an exhibition game versus the Meteors Saturday in preparation for their season opener Friday, Sept. 24 at Niagara Falls.
“We’re pretty close,” Barnes said when asked about the roster. “We have a few moves we still have to make to create some room and some other guys looking to come in. At the end of the day, we’re happy with what we have right now to start the season.
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