SPRINGHILL - After missing six weeks with a broken hand, feisty forward Cole Wood was back in action last Friday night as the Cumberland County Blues did battle with the St. Margaret's Bay Ducks during the first game of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League championship finals at the Richard Calder Arena.
It's the Oxford resident’s first year with the Blues and, as anybody who watched him check Ducks against the boards can attest - he's a fearless player.
"He's really gritty and does things that might not get noticed on the stat sheet," Blues coach Dave Hyatt said. "He gets to the net, finishes checks and plays gritty along the wall.
"He's been a real nice surprise and, as a 17-year-old, we didn't really see him making the contribution he's made this year," Hyatt added. "He's dealt a lot with injuries but we're excited to have him back in the lineup."
The injuries have been frustrating for Wood but he isn't about to back off on his aggressive style of play.
"I score the odd goal," Wood said. "But the main thing I try to do is bang and crash, keep the tempo up and get the fans into it."
Wood is one of the younger and smaller players on the team and Hyatt said he wasn't sure how well he'd adapt to the NSJHL.
"When you coach a kid who's young and who's going to be involved in a tough, body contact sort of game, you don’t really know how he is going to react, but he handles it all quite well," Hyatt said. "For a 17-year-old he's far ahead from where we thought he would be."
"He's really gritty and does things that might not get noticed on the stat sheet." - Dave Hyatt, coach
During training camp, Hyatt wasn't even sure if Wood would make the team.
"I would classify Cole as one of our biggest and most pleasant surprises this year,” he said. "No matter who we played him with, he's made his linemates better and anybody he's played with has enjoyed playing with him."
Wood wants to be back in a Blues uniform next year and sees one main area where his game needs improvement.
"I need to really improve my shot," Wood said. "I also hope to not get hurt, play more games and play a bigger role on the team."
Hyatt coached Wood when he played novice and said he's a good fit for the team.
"I've known Cole forever,” he said. “He's always been a good kid and real easy to coach."
And Wood believes the Blues are a good fit for him.
"I love playing here," Wood said. "They pack the rink and it's a great atmosphere. They have good coaches and good guys. It's a fun place to play hockey."
And it doesn't hurt that he finds himself playing for a provincial championship.
Last year he played for the Weeks Major Midgets of the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League and was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.
"The Blues play for championships and have a lot of success here in Springhill," Wood said. "It feels good to be playing for something again."