By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Hudson Havoc veteran forward Cooper Anderson knows he’s moving from one organization with a reputation for winning and playing deep-season playoff hockey to another.
Anderson committed in April to Hamline University, a team that has made two NCAA Division III National Tournament appearances in this 21st century, and also just improved its wins total year over year by more than 300 percent.
“What interested me the most on the hockey side was the reputation of Hamline’s program, and Coach [Shane] Wagner. They are one of the most prestigious schools in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and are the most competitive year after year,” said Anderson, an ‘02 resident of Marquette, Mich. “Talking with Coach Wagner, I knew he was a coach I could trust. I loved the direction he had for the team, and the culture he has for the players.
“What interested me the most on the academic side was Hamline’s school of business. I have always had a plan for what I would like to do after school, and Hamline had the best academics to prepare me for it,” added Anderson. “They have business analytics, finance, and accounting.”
He began talking with Hamline after the end of the Nationals, when the Havoc made their second straight to the “big dance,” both times with Anderson on board.
“I first started talking to Hamline right after the National Tournament. I got in touch with Coach Wagner and we both had interest, so we planned a visit for the following week,” said Anderson. “After I went on my visit, I knew Hamline was where I wanted to be. It was such a beautiful campus. I loved the mix of older historic, and brand new buildings. It was so well kept. It’s a smaller, close community on campus. I’m from a small town in Upper Michigan, so I felt right at home. Once I saw all of the campus, the rink, and had multiple conversations with coach Wagner, I knew I wanted to make it official.”
We can make it official that, for two seasons, Anderson was one of the Havoc’s driving forces up front. He was amazingly consistent, posting 33 points in 2021-22, and 34 points this past 2022-23 regular season. He absolutely blazed through the playoffs and Nationals, with 11 points in his seven postseason games. In fact, his 17 career postseason points ranks second all-time in Havoc history.
“I have so many great things to say about the Hudson’s organization and the people involved. After being there for two years, I can say it was my best hockey experience, [with] the way you feel part of a family, and how you are treated like a professional,” said Anderson. “The relationships I have built with the coaches will last forever. I can say it is by far the best program in the league. The experience in our staff, and the effort put in behind the scenes from billets, and coordinators, meant so much to me, and all of the players.”
Anderson had the benefit of being coached by former head man Brett Wall, now head coach at Lawrence University, and former NHL player Dean Talafous, over his two seasons.
“The player development in Hudson is the best in the league. From the first day I got there two years ago, to where I’m at now, I am a completely different and greatly improved player. The way we are developed and coached prepares you for the next level,” said Anderson. “We were very fortunate to have head coach Dean Talafous. No other coach in the league has his resume: National champion as a player at Wisconsin, national champion as a coach at River Falls, and over 500 NHL games played. It was such an honor to work with him and use his knowledge to improve my game and get me an opportunity at the next level.”
He was also excited to be part of the USPHL Premier, playing in two National Championships and in several showcases, from Minnesota to Chicago to Detroit.
“The USPHL Premier is a great league for attracting colleges. There are so many high-end, competitive teams across the country that develop players for the next level. The different teams in different areas cater to certain styles of play,” said Anderson. “Playing in the Midwest West Division prepared me for the MIAC style of hockey. The league has so many coaches with high-end resumes, and lots of connections as well.”
Those connections also help in terms of players’ preparations for the next level. Both the junior coaches and the college coaches they work with to advance players are able to guide players in their off-season approach to preparation for that next level.
“What I want to work on the most this off-season is my strength. In Juniors, you are playing against younger players who are 16-21 years old. But in college, you are playing against 21-25 year olds who are stronger, bigger, and faster,” said Anderson. “I also want to work on my shot. It’s something that I can always improve on and get better at. It’s so important when you get to the next level that you have a rocket shot and can put the puck in the back of the net.”
The USPHL congratulates Cooper Anderson, his family, the Hudson Havoc and Hamline University for his commitment.