|MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 24: Sophomore YoungStar Andrew Cogliano #13 of the Edmonton Oilers competes in the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater during the Honda NHL Superskills competition as part of the 2009 NHL All-Star weekend on January 24, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) |
-- Edmonton Oilers sophomore center Andrew Cogliano had no strategy. Then again, he didn't need any.
As is usually the case, the first three strides made the difference.
Cogliano, one of two YoungStars added to the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater segment Saturday afternoon, was the sixth and final skater in the first event of the 2009 Honda/NHL All-Star SuperSkills Saturday night and topped the field with a time of 14.31 seconds.
Cogliano overtook the early leader, Philadelphia's Jeff Carter, by 0.12 seconds. He wasn't fazed by the pressure.
"There was a little bit (of pressure) I guess, but I knew what time I had to beat and when the fans started chanting, I started pushing and going even harder," Cogliano said.
Earlier in the day, Cogliano stated he had hoped to "lie in the weeds a bit," but this performance has officially placed him in the open field.
"I guess I'm right in the front row now," Cogliano said. "(Mike) Modano came up to me after I won and said that he had his money on me, so that was pretty cool."
Cogliano admitted losing to Edmonton teammate Erik Cole, 13.1-13.6, earlier this season, didn't leave him with a confident feeling entering the event.
"In my two experiences in this event in Edmonton, I lost both times (to Cole this season and Curtis Glencross last season)," Cogliano said. "I think the advantage is having a guy on the blockers to help you stay wide. It was pretty fun and exciting and I'm happy about it. I'll put that trophy in my room and definitely remember this experience."
Despite his losses to teammates the last two seasons, the 21-year-old Toronto native has been receiving plenty of hype with his quick stride out of the gate. That proved to be the difference Saturday.
"You just put your head down, try to maintain some balance and just go -- it's not too complicated," he said. "You have to keep your edges on those turns because that's where you pick up that time."
The event required skaters to complete one lap on the arena surface -- starting from a standing position at the center red line. All the times were recorded in thousandths of a second.
New Jersey's Zach Parise opened with a time of 14.59 before Carter set the bar with his 14.43. Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell
then crossed in 14.50 and Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester finished in 14.59. Vancouver sophomore Mason Raymond, the other late addition to the Fastest Skater event, struggled out of the gate after losing his balance in the first turn, to finish in 14.51.
"The start is big and that first turn is important," Cogliano said. "That's where you saw Mason kind of lose his footing out there."
Earlier this season, Bob Davidge, a skating instructor and announcer for the Columbus Blue Jackets, told NHL.com that Cogliano might be the fastest skater in the League.
"I think Andrew Cogliano is the fastest skater in the NHL," Davidge said. "I watched him when he played for (the University of) Michigan and he'd just pull away from guys in the first three or four strides. (Calgary’s) Matt Lombardi and Mason Raymond are like that, the first three strides and look out -- they're on their way."
Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Messier, who stopped by the press box to watch the competition before heading for an appearance on Versus, had this quick assessment.
"They say the game is faster, but still nobody can beat Gartner," said Messier.
Mike Gartner, of course, still holds the record in the Fastest Skater competition with a time of 13.386, set in 1996.Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer