Colorado College's Ben Copeland was as-advertised his freshman season .
Copeland appeared in all 41 games, putting up nine goals and 21 assists, the most among first-year forwards. His most memorable effort came in an 8-2 win Feb. 23 against Western Michigan, when he scored four goals while sick with the flu.
The Edina, Minn., native was ranked 126th among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings in April 2018, but went undrafted. He’s shown two teams that they can still make it right, lighting up social media with a three-point effort in a prospects scrimmage for the Vancouver Canucks in 2018 and a hat trick at the St. Louis Blues prospect camp this summer.
Copeland sat down with The Gazette to discuss the summer, his outlook on the upcoming season — Colorado College hosts Trinity Western in a scrimmage Saturday, Oct. 5 — and his reminder of who his inspiration is.
What makes you so excited about this team?
I think everyone’s really kind of buying in more than the past couple of years. Our freshmen coming in this year, they’re elite talents. I think everyone of them is going to contribute to our team. We’re going to need every single guy this year, I think. Last year, we kind of relied on — maybe a little too much — that top line. At the end of the year, we kind of contributed more on an even basis. I think this year is different with that. Everyone knows where we’ve been, and we’re so close, that it’s our time and our opportunity to take over.
Would you say you kind of deferred to the seniors until later in the year?
I thought so. My line last year, with (Westin) Michaud and (Alex) Berardinelli, we were kind of like the line that defended well. You could rely on us, and we could also contribute. This year, I think it’s kind of my time to take over, have a huge year. It’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders. I like that.
How did you wind up at the St. Louis Blues prospect camp this summer, and what was it like?
I got the call right after the season by a couple teams. It was kind of a hard decision which one to go to. It was between Washington, St. Louis, Colorado and a couple of others. St. Louis, they really sparked me throughout the year with kind of contacting me. Right after the season they invited me. They had kind of a good idea with what they were dealing with with me. They kind of understand me as a player, they’ve been watching me. They said they’d be watching me a ton this year. My agent helped me a lot and my coaches helped me a lot with what was the best decision for me, for my future. Me fitting in as a player in their organization would be great, so that’s why I chose that.
After that, was it cool to see them lift the Stanley Cup?
That was pretty cool, for sure. Maybe a week later I went to their camp. There was a good crowd coming to our scrimmages every day. I had a good show there, so it was really exciting.
What was the difference between your first prospects camp and your second?
Everyone’s trying to make it, you know. There’s people from all across the country. I have nothing to lose there, and going through it, it’s cool that I’ve had a lot of good shows and they’ve continued to have a lot of interest in me. I’m excited.
Can you explain your new ink? (Copeland has a tattoo that reads “Boss” in his grandfather’s handwriting on his forearm.)
He was always my biggest fan. He’s come to every single game that I had, even here last year. It’s unfortunate that he passed away during the season last year. It was a hard time for me, but he motivates me. It’s pretty special. I sort of play for him now. Kiss it every time I go out.