The first year of college can be a tough transition to make for a young person. Living away from home for the first time, eating strange food and adjusting to an unfamiliar setting are just a few of the obstacles that most college freshmen face.
Luckily for Colby Cohen – who was selected by the Avalanche in the second round (45th overall) of the 2007 Entry Draft – the transition during his first year at Boston University was fairly simple due to a couple of factors: familiarity and friends.
|Cohen notched 16 points (3g/13a) during his freshman year at Boston University while being paired on the blue line with fellow Avs draftee Kevin Shattenkirk |
A native of Villanova, Pa., Cohen has been well-traveled in his young hockey career. With stints playing for the Syracuse Stars (OPJHL), U.S. National Under-17 Team and Lincoln Stars (USHL) all under his belt before the age of 18, he was already accustomed to living away from home.
But that’s not to say Cohen didn’t have to make any changes after enrolling in school.
“Just balancing everything was the biggest transition. Going to class and balancing that with hockey,” said Cohen. “I’ve been on my own for years, because I played in the Ontario Provincial League and then also in the USHL and with the USA program. Those things definitely helped me mature.”
If that balancing act was indeed tough on the blueliner, he certainly didn’t show it on the ice. Cohen stepped right into the Terriers’ lineup and provided a physical presence while totaling 16 points (3g/13a) in 39 games. It might have helped that he had a very familiar face with him every step of the way.
If Cohen needed advice or a helping hand on topics ranging from his coursework to his play on the ice, he certainly didn’t have to look far. At the other side of the blue line – and on opposite end of his dorm room – was fellow Avs draft pick and long-time friend Kevin Shattenkirk, who had played with Cohen for Team USA in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“It was good, because we were going through the same thing, just like we had been going through the same thing with the USA program,” said Cohen. “It made it easier knowing that I could turn to him for anything.”
The Terriers had a bit of a rocky start to the 2007-08 season (7-13-4) which may be attributed somewhat to the 10 underclassmen who saw significant ice time. However, the team began to jell late in the year after Boston University’s legendary coach, Jack Parker, made some subtle changes to the way his team approached the game. Those modifications proved to make quite a difference, as the Terriers rolled off a 10-2-0 run to close out the regular season.
“We changed our system a little bit and buckled down defensively in our own zone,” said Cohen. “Our team banded together at the end of the season and we started to play better.”
|Cohen, along with 28 other young Avalanche prospects, attended Colorado's week-long development camp in July |
Ultimately, the squad fell to the University of Vermont in the Hockey East semifinals to end their season.
Now, Cohen says the goal is to help his school return to the NCAA Tournament and be a competitor on the national scene. Based at least partially on their strong finish a season ago, the Terriers were selected to finish second in the Hockey East in the 2008-09 preseason coaches poll, just behind rival Boston College.
In order to live up to those preseason expectations, Cohen said he worked on getting stronger and improving his foot speed during the summer.
And as far as his offseason workouts go, he has a pretty good training partner.
Cohen often trains with his cousin, Jeremy Bloom, who was a wide receiver for the University of Colorado football team and also competed for Team USA in both the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Winter Games as a freestyle skier. Bloom attended training camp with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008.
“I try to work out with my cousin whenever I can,” said Cohen. “Anything I can to do to train with him is great, because he’s a world-class athlete.”
Cohen and his Boston University teammates will kick off their season Sunday (Oct. 5) with an exhibition game against New Brunswick. The following weekend, the Terriers will open their regular season at the Ice Breaker Invitational in Boston, where the team will face the University of North Dakota (Oct. 10) on Friday and Michigan State University on Saturday (Oct. 11).