The 2019-20 campaign was a trying season for New York Islanders prospect Logan Cockerill. Three games into his junior year at Boston University, Cockerill was sidelined for the first half of the season with an upper-body injury that required surgery. The winger didn't return to the lineup until mid-January.
The injury took the first half of his season and the COVID-19 pandemic took the end, as the NCAA cancelled the remainder of the season on March 12, one day before the Hockey East tournament was scheduled to begin.
"It was hard in a few ways," Cockerill reflected. "First off, just trying to get back from that injury and trying to have a good end of the season. All of those seniors that I was so close with, you usually at least get the closure of if you lose, you lose. Having the season pulled from us was tough. Every other athlete in the country probably felt the same way."
A few weeks after, as Cockerill and his teammates dispersed back to their respective hometowns, his disheartening junior season ended on a high note, as he was named BU's 2020-21 captain on March 30.
"It's a big honor to be named the captain of BU because of how storied of a program it is," Cockerill said. "And to receive that honor largely because of how my teammates voted me in. It makes me feel good that I have the respect of a lot of guys under me."
As he approached last season, Cockerill was eager to showcase the areas he had refined during his diligent offseason. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound left-shot improved his speed and selection in lanes to drive to the net to create scoring chances. As for the prominent defensive side of his game, Cockerill embraced that responsibility even more when he was able to rejoin the lineup upon his recovery.
"I knew my role of [penalty killing] and playing a defensive role was just what I was focused on; that is one of the things I pride myself a lot on," Cockerill said. "I feel like sometimes people look at the defensive side of the game as almost, not a negative, but almost a negative. That it's not using skill or it's not goal-scoring focused, but I've always felt it's just as important. I think guys will respect you a lot more on your team. The more serious you take that defensive end."
Through 18 games, the Islanders' 2017 seventh rounder (201st overall) scored twice, had five points and was getting consistent power-play time. Down the stretch the Terriers sat in sixth in the Hockey East standings with a record of 10-9-5 (13-13-8 overall), but Cockerill felt his game and those of his teammates' were coming together.
"It was really good for me to get sustained time on the power play. It got me more comfortable in that situation," Cockerill said. "That's why it was disappointing because not only me, but just our group as a team were generally on the upswing. We felt like we were building towards making a run at Hockey East. I felt like I was going to be able to contribute a pretty substantial amount to that championship run."
Now back in Brighton, Michigan, Cockerill has spent more consecutive time at home with his parents and older brother and sister than he has in the past three years combined. The time away from BU has allowed the 21-year-old to appreciate the unique community of playing in a city as hockey-crazed as Boston.
"Hockey is a pretty big deal in Michigan," Cockerill explained. "But a lot of the [universities] are more football or basketball-oriented, whereas, you go to BU and you're the main sport. Playing in the Beanpot my first couple of years, really introduced me to how big a deal college hockey is in Massachusetts."
This year, Cockerill and the Terriers lost in double overtime to Northeastern in the Beanpot championship, Boston's annual college tournament played between BU, Northeastern, Boston College and Harvard. Captaining BU to a Beanpot title would certainly be a way to put a stamp on his senior year.
Until he can lace the skates back up, Cockerill is staying regimented back home and following an individual, bodyweight-focused training program. Looking ahead, he's evaluated how his summer training leading up to his senior year might differ compared to the environment he's usually in at BU.
"I'm usually there for 12-14 weeks during the summer and training with [BU trainer] Kyle Czech and skating around there," Cockerill said. "We usually have a lot of the guys that are returning from the team and some of the newcomers come in and join for the summer sessions...It's just nice being in Boston because there are so many ice sheets and all of that organization for skating and summer league games. I play in that Foxborough league with [NHL Player Agent] Matt Keator's team. Then, there's just a lot of skill skates that you can hop into. It is unfortunate that I'm not around Boston for all of that."
Upon reflecting on the highs and lows of his junior season, which ended with little closure, Cockerill has a newfound regard for how he approaches his senior year. As captain, Cockerill hopes to relish in his final season with the Terriers and help lead the group to a deep run en route to a national championship.
"Just watching the seniors throughout the year and seeing how emotional they all got as they tried to get their last Beanpot championship. That's going to be me," Cockerill said. "I'll have one more shot at Beanpot, Hockey East and a national championship. You get to see how emotionally impacted I'm going to be next year. It helps for me going into the offseason; that I only have one more shot at this and how meaningful that's going to be."
Cockerill is optimistic about his future and the team's once hockey returns.
"We haven't had the greatest past two years, but we've always had the belief in ourselves," Cockerill said. "We have a lot of talent in the locker room. Once we can figure it out, we can be one of the best teams in the country. We're ready to make an impact next year."