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Cowick grades 'A' in rookie tournament opener

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Corey Cowick leaps into the air to celebrate a goal with his Senators teammates at the General Motors Centre in Oshawa, Ont. The Sens blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 in their rookie tournament opener, with Cowick scoring a pair of goals and adding an assist (Photo by Mike Peleshok).

OSHAWA, Ont. — The 'A' on the front of his jersey spoke volumes about the positive statement Corey Cowick made on Saturday afternoon.

With a three-point effort, including a pair of goals, the Gloucester native was the offensive catalyst as the Ottawa Senators blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 in their rookie tournament opener at the General Motors Centre. Derek Grant and Andre Petersson also scored for the Senators and Robin Lehner recorded the shutout.

Nobody, however, made a better case for himself than Cowick, the former Ottawa 67's star who was a sixth-round pick (160th overall) by the Senators in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. With the Binghamton Senators needing to replace several key components of their Calder Cup championship team, Cowick is a guy head coach Kurt Kleinendorst is counting on the fill that void.

"I would absolutely hope that’s what this is going to lead to," said Kleinendorst, who designated Cowick as one of the Senators' three alternate captains for the game against the Penguins. "That’s what my hopes were coming in and that (effort) just shows me that he worked hard and he’s done something right. I know he wasn’t thrilled with the way last year went, but it is what it is. That one’s in the books, we’re moving forward and if this is what we see, then I think he’s going to have a better role for us, for sure.

"In the year now I’ve spent with him, that was the best I’ve seen him play, which is a good thing. We put an ‘A’ on him for a reason. He's been with us for a year now. He just looks strong, he looked confident, he had positive energy. It's by far his best effort from what I’ve seen since I’ve been here."

While Cowick did get to celebrate the Calder Cup crown in Binghamton, he saw no post-season action with the team. And half his playing time during the regular schedule was spent with the Elmira Jackals, Ottawa's secondary affiliate in the East Coast Hockey League. It wasn't exactly the way the 22-year-old planned it out.

"It was definitely frustrating at times last year, especially going down to Elmira," he said. "At first, I thought I was getting punished but then I understood the situation, to get more ice time and play important minutes. Then it was a more positive thing. You’ve just got to take the positives in everything you can find."

He certainly found plenty today, setting up Grant's first-period breakaway goal, then scoring one himself before the opening 20 minutes were in the books. Cowick's second goal wrapped up the scoring late in the third.

"I knew it was going to be a pretty good game, playing with (Stefan) Noesen and Grant, two guys who are very, very skilled but work hard, too. It was a really good start for us," he said. "You want to start off the way you ended last year and we won the Calder Cup. You want to keep that going into this season. I didn’t play the biggest role in that but I was there and now I want to prove I can play a role this year when we make our run.

"It was a really good start to get my feet under me and I’ll build (on it) as we get into main camp."

The Senators rookies next see action against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon (2 p.m., Rogers TV, Team 1200). The Hawks were doubled up by the host Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Saturday night.

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