LONDON, ONTARIO – Former Robert Morris University defenseman Dave Cowan spent the past week in London, Ontario playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs on an amateur tryout contract.
Toronto is one of four teams – the Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators are the others – that participated in the rookie tournament at the John Labatt Centre, home of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights.
Cowan, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman who spent two seasons as the captain of the Colonials, made his tournament debut for the Leafs on Sunday night against the Penguins. He was acquitting himself quite nicely when he was knocked from the lineup during his first shift of the second period following a hit from the Penguins Ryan Schnell.
“It was a short-lived experience for me this time around,” Cowan said. “It’s tough to kind of judge how I did. I felt pretty good and confident out there. I had just got my first couple of shifts out of the way and was getting my bearings when I ended up getting hit.”
Cowan suffered a dislocated shoulder as a result of the play, and will miss the next 6-8 weeks. The Colonials’ 2009-10 Team MVP says injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. He plans to spend the next couple of weeks rehabilitating the injury so that he can get back playing as soon as possible.
“I am going to take this shoulder thing as it comes,” Cowan said. “They are saying 6-8 weeks right now. We will see where it goes. I don’t know what Toronto’s expectations are for me. But first and foremost, I just have to get this shoulder healthy.”RELATED ARTICLE: Penguins Notebook: Camp Special Experience For London Native McNeill
When Cowan does recover, he is signed to play this season with the Reading Royals of the East Coast Hockey League, although that could change depending on if something comes out of his tryout with Toronto, or if another team is intrigued by what Cowan brings to the table and offers him a contract.
Although Cowan’s first foray into a professional training camp hasn’t gone the way he envisioned with the injury, the defensive-minded blueliner was very thankful for the opportunity the Maple Leafs have given him. He couldn’t thank his former teammates and coaches at RMU for everything they did during his four years there to help create this chance.
|Toronto's Dave Cowan played his college hockey at Robert Morris University. |
“I’m a pretty big team guy, so I don’t think any of my individual success would have come without my teammates and coaches helping me out,” Cowan said. “My personal success is based upon how the team does. A lot of this is credited to my coaching staff at RMU. I am thankful to have this chance the Leafs have given me to represent Robert Morris University.”
As far as expectations for his former team, Cowan expects big things for the Colonials as they embark on their first season in the Atlantic Hockey league, where they join schools such as Army, Air Force, RIT and Holy Cross.
“I think moving to the Atlantic Conference is going to be a great move for the hockey program,” Cowan said. “I am definitely going to be watching them and am excited for them.”
Cowan believes RMU head coach Derek Schooley has his team on the upswing heading into ’09-10 following some impressive victories last year, including back-to-back upsets of then-No. 1-ranked Miami (Ohio) University in January.
“It was neat to see the progression of the school during my four years,” Cowan said. “The school as a hockey program really progressed. They have a great coaching staff and support staff and the athletic directors are great. It’s definitely a school on the rise.”
This season the Colonials will again participate in the College Hockey Showcase – this time against Air Force in a conference game – which will be held on October 17 at CONSOL Energy Center. Robert Morris will also be a part of Pittsburgh’s celebration of hockey during the week preceding the Winter Classic when they host RIT at CONSOL Energy Center on December 30.
“The more big showcase games there is for the program, the better that is going to be for the program,” Cowan said. “I think we have a great group of guys there that rise to those types of challenges and play well under those situations, so getting those games in early can really help this year’s team progress. Being a small program you thrive on games like that.”
Schooley’s program will also thrive thanks to the professional success guys like Dave Cowan have representing the school.