Steinbachpistons.ca is once again bringing Pistons fans up to speed on some of our alumni and what they’ve been up to since leaving Steinbach.
We’ve recently caught up with former Pistons goalie and 2013 MJHL Playoff MVP Corey Koop.
After spending time with both the Winkler Flyers and the Neepawa Natives, the then 20-year-old Koop was acquired by the Pistons from the Natives at the trade deadline during the 2012-13 season, and took over the starting role in net soon after for Steinbach.
He helped lead the Pistons into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and was the team’s backbone throughout their postseason run as Steinbach shocked the Manitoba hockey landscape by beating the defending champion Portage Terriers in seven games, stunning the first place Winnipeg Blues to win the Addison Division final in six, and then took down the MJHL best Dauphin Kings in six games to win their first MJHL championship that season.
Koop’s most memorable performance as a Piston came in Game #5 of that league final, as he turned away the Kings at every turn with a crucial 49 save performance. The Pistons won it in 4-3 in double overtime on the road thanks to a Justin Dalebozik goal, and that sent the series back to Steinbach with a 3-2 Pistons lead, where they would eventually win the Turnbull Cup at home.
The Squamish, British Columbia native put forth a 2.71 GAA and a .926 SV% in 15 regular season games during the 2012-13 season. In 19 MJHL playoff games he was even better, sporting a .930 SV% and a 2.36 GAA during his playoff MVP campaign.
He then moved onto the University of Wisconsin-Stout in NCAA Division III hockey and continued his solid play by posting a .905 SV% and a 3.61 GAA in 24 GP in his freshman season in 2013-14. He finished his hockey career at the College of St. Scholastica (also NCAA Division III) in a back-up role for his final two years.
Here is the following Q & A with Corey:
Steinbachpistons.ca: What have you got going on these days?
Corey Koop: Up until April 26th, I was the Lunch Manager at Earl’s Restaurant in Victoria. This had me running the day business for the restaurant that surpassed the $6 million sales mark last fiscal year. I had an unforgettable time overseeing an amazing team of servers and bartenders while I was there.
I also officiated lots of hockey last season. I was fortunate enough to be hired as a trainee to the WHL. This had me working exhibition games last season with the hopes of being hired full time for the upcoming season. I then officiated the BCHL, BCIHL (university), VIJHL, and minor hockey.
I was selected to referee one of the World Junior pre-competition games which had Team Canada playing against the CIS All-Star team, and I just recently returned from Whitehorse where I refereed the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships. I was on the ice when Team Manitoba took home the gold medal against Team Saskatchewan.
Right now, I’m currently putting together a referee camp along with some world class officials and friends of mine in July in Whistler, BC. (see right)
SP: Do you still follow the Pistons during their season?
CK: Of course! I still have the app on my phone. I’m planning on attending as many games as I can when I come to visit my family at Christmas time this year.
SP: What was your most memorable on-ice moment with the Pistons?
CK: I think this one is a given. The roar from the crowd counting down the final ten seconds of Game #6 during the 2013 finals. Best fans in the league!
SP: What were some of your favorite moments with your teammates away from the rink in Steinbach?
CK: Building a two-room igloo in my billets’ front yard, equipped with power and everything.
SP: Who were some of your favorite Pistons teammates?
CK: Wazzy, Nuge, Retro, Flous, I could go around that entire locker room and name them all. We had a pretty special locker room that year.
SP: In your opinion, other than your home barn, what is the toughest rink in the MJHL to play in?
CK: Gordon Lathlin Memorial Centre – home of the OCN Blizzard. Hands down the toughest. The atmosphere their fans created on top of the 7+ hour bus ride there made it an extremely tough rink to walk out of with 2 points.
SP: What advice would you give to current Pistons and future prospects who want to play in Steinbach?
CK: Enjoy it, it flies by way too fast. If you’re want to go the NCAA route, you have to market yourself. If you’re good enough to play D1 the scouts will find you. If you’re like myself and more destined to be a power backup goalie in D3, they don’t have the scouting budget like the D1 teams. Go on their websites and fill out their player profile form. This will open up so many more options than the few schools that can afford to come to Manitoba and scout.
SP: How did your time with the Pistons get you to where you are today?
CK: The organization sets you up for success. They give you enough freedom that you have to learn necessary life skills like time management and accountability. But step in and give you guidance and support when needed. They have an amazing platform to promote and prepare you for hockey after juniors.
Koop will be running the Whistler International Officials Academy from July 12-18 for those who are looking to become hockey referees. For more information, contact Corey at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his Facebook page “Koop’s Call” for details.