There’s a hockey rumour floating around suggesting that players who shoot on a more consistent basis enjoy more offensive success.
Brett Cote is fine example of why the rumour has some teeth. All joking aside, the Red Deer Rebels defenceman is on course for his best Western Hockey League offensive season because he’s putting more rubber to the net.
“I think I just shoot the puck more,” said the Red Deer Rebels overage defencemen, who was acquired from the Victoria Royals last May. “In Victoria, I didn’t really shoot that often and the coaches there did let me know about it.
“I have been shooting a lot more this season and I guess good things are happening when I put it on net and I have to keep trying to do that.”
Considering the Rebels surrendered a second-round bantam draft pick for his services, Cote, at first glance, looked like a costly pick-up. He’s since become a big-time bargain.
The product of Oakbank, Man., is tied with Wyatt Johnson for the Rebels’ scoring lead. The six-foot, 207-pound defenceman has scored twice and added 19 assists for 21 points, and is a close second to Johnson in the plus-minus category at an impressive plus-14.
While he admitted he’s pleased with his personal contributions thus far, Cote would rather discuss the Rebels’ play in general.
“Points are nice, but winning, by far, beats personal accomplishments every time,” he said. “We got off to a bit of a rough start this season and started to come around after the P.A. weekend (road losses to the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades Oct. 17-18). We really started to turns things around after that weekend, which is the most important thing.”
While Cote may have been acquired partly due to his offensive potential — he had eight goals and 41 points with the Royals during the 2012-13 season‚ his second of three with the club — his experience and stay-calm demeanour were most attractive to the Rebels.
“He’s really been a calming effect on our back end,” said Rebels associate coach Jeff Truitt. “Especially with (defensive partner Austin) Strand . . . he’s done a real good job of helping him recognize plays.
“Brett makes good little puck plays in the defensive zone. He knows the situations ahead of him and makes a really quick, good play in our zone.”
As for Cote’s offensive contributions . . .
“He’s shooting the puck more. He’s getting shots through and he’s making good decisions,” said Truitt.
“He’s been everything you want in a defenceman. As I always say, there’s always more to give, but boy, he’s been good for us.”
Cote’s experience and poise has also resulted in him being handed — and accepting — a leadership role.
“We have some young defencemen. My roommate is (rookie) Austin Strand and we’re also defensive partners,” said Cote. “We’re pretty close and I’m just trying to help him out the best I can. I try and teach him some things that I’ve learned in the league to this point.”
“Right from the get go, in training camp and through the early part of the regular season, you could just see the calmness in him and his poise,” said Truitt. “That’s added a tremendous amount to our defensive corps.”
Being that this has been somewhat of a breakout season for Cote, the odds of him landing a pro contract following the season would appear to have increased.
“Playing pro is the first option . . . it would be so much fun and a great life,” he said. “But not everybody gets to play pro, I know the chances aren’t great. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully it will work out.
“But the CIS full scholarships is not a terrible thing to fall back on.”
For now, Cote is focusing on this weekend and a schedule that includes three divisional games in three nights. The Rebels host the Medicine Hat Tigers tonight and the Calgary Hitmen Saturday, then visit the Hitmen Sunday afternoon.
“This is a very big weekend for us,” said the 20-year-old rearguard. “ We didn’t play the way we wanted to Tuesday in Medicine Hat (in a 4-2 loss) so it’s kind of nice that we have them back here on Friday.
“Then we have a double-header against Calgary. Three in three is going to be a tough weekend, but we just have to take it a game at a time.”