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Cougars sign four players

The Prince George Cougars have signed four players – goaltender Isaiah DiLaura (00) and forwards Brendan Boyle (01), Ben Coppinger (00) and Marco Mazza (99) – WHL Standard Player Agreements, general manager Todd Harkins announced Tuesday.

DiLaura, 17, hails from Lakeville, Minnesota, and played high school hockey last year at Lakeville South. Last season, DiLaura led his conference in goals-against average (1.89) and was second in save percentage (.914) amongst starters, posting a 13-8-1 record in 24 games. In the Section Playoffs, DiLaura took off, posting two shutouts in three games, leading Lakeville South all the way to a semi-final appearance in the 2AA Minnesota State Boy’s Tournament.

“He’s a big-body goaltender with good mechanics, who’s always square to the shooter and he has this quiet confidence about him, which is critical for his position,” said Harkins. “This signing says a lot about the inroads our league and our organization is making in a fertile hockey market like Minnesota.”

Boyle played this past season on the Pursuit of Excellence (POE) Hockey Academy’s Midget Elite 15 team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. The Vernon, B.C., product finished second in team scoring, registering 10 goals and 25 points in in 28 games. He also dressed in seven games with POE’s Midget Varsity team, collecting two goals and seven points in as many games.

“Brendan is a very good skater who finds the open spots on the ice. The way he reads and anticipates the play is impressive considering his age. He competes at both ends of the ice and has a very good release,” said Harkins.

Coppinger is coming off his second consecutive Manitoba Midget Hockey League championship with the Winnipeg Wild. Coppinger was third in team scoring, amassing 24 goals and 53 points in 42 games. He added another seven goals and 16 points in 11 playoff games. The Winnipeg native was nearly a point per-game player in his two years with the Wild, accumulating 78 points in 79 regular season games.

“Ben had two great seasons at the Midget level in Manitoba winning back-to-back provincial championships and was a key member of both those championship winning teams,’ commented Harkins.

Marco Mazza also hails from Winnipeg and split last season between the Virden Oil Capitals in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, and the Fort Garry – Fort Rouge Twins in the Manitoba Major Junior League. Mazza was limited to just 18-games last year due to an injury. Prior to last season, Mazza played for the Central Plains Capitals in the Manitoba Midget Hockey League. It was his impressive Training Camp that caught the Cougars’ attention.

“Marco definitely caught our eye during Training Camp, as he kept getting better every day. He’s finally healthy and you can tell he has something to prove when he’s on the ice; he’s been a very nice surprise.”

DiLaura, Coppinger and Mazza are part of the Cougars’ current 34-man pre-season roster. Brendan Boyle has since been reassigned to the Okanagan Rockets in the BC Major Midget League.


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