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Red Deer’s Cooper Moore leads the U18 AAA Chiefs to the playoffs

Second in league scoring
Red Deer Optimist Chiefs forward Cooper Moore is currently second in the U18 AAA AEHL in scoring with two games to go in the regular season. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Red Deer’s Cooper Moore has a knack for scoring goals.

The 17-year-old, who’s in his second season with the U18 AAA Red Deer Optimist Chiefs, has had a career season in the Alberta Elite Hockey League.

With just two games to go in the regular season, Moore is second in the league with 56 points and 26 goals in 36 games.

Moore said he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish career highs in points, goals, and assists this season without the help of his teammates and coaches.

“They’ve really been a big factor for me having the success I do right now. I’ve got to give it all to them and the organization,” he said.

Moore may not be able to catch Caleb Matthews, who’s leading the AEHL with 65 points, from the Calgary Buffaloes but has a good shot of overtaking Calgary Buffaloes forward Cooper Williams who leads the league with 28 goals.

He’ll get his shot when the Chiefs host the Calgary Northstars on Friday at 8 p.m. and the Grande Prairie Storm on Saturday at 4:45 p.m.

Chiefs head coach Tyler Lightbown said with Moore’s skills and intelligence on the ice he knew it was a matter of time before he had a breakout season.

“This is the second year I’ve coached him and he’s come leaps and bounds. He’s been overlooked because he’s a smaller guy but compete level, hockey IQ, and his desire separates him from a lot of guys,” Lightbown said.

Moore may be small in stature but he hasn’t let that hold him back. Listed at five feet seven inches and 141 pounds, he explained that weight lifting was on his offseason to-do list, and it’s paid off.

“I spent a lot of time in the weight room and I was just trying to get bigger so I can perform out on the ice better,” Moore added.

Last season he managed to contribute six goals and 17 assists for 23 points in 30 games. It’s certainly a productive campaign, but this year, he took his game to another level.

So much so, that the Trail Smoke Eaters of the British Columbia Hockey League signed him for the 2024-25 season to play Junior A hockey. The team reached out to him midway through this season with an interest in Moore joining the organization.

With a few other teams interested in him, he felt the Smoke Eaters were the best route for his career.

“They have smaller players that fit my style of play and they have such a rich history of winning,” he said.

In a media release, general manager and head coach of the Smoke Eaters, Tim Fragle, said they are excited to have Moore commit to their program.

“Cooper has had an exceptional season to this point and he will bring pace along with a high IQ to our team,” he said.

“We feel his game will translate to our style of play along with his leadership skills and will contribute to the program in many ways. We look forward to helping Cooper develop at the BCHL level.”

After playing for the Smoke Eaters, his dream is to sign and play Division I hockey in the NCAA.

The Chiefs have secured a playoff spot for the upcoming AEHL postseason. With a 19-13-0-1-3 record, the Chiefs have won three in a row to pull within two points of the Calgary Flames and Calgary Royals who are tied for second place.

Red Deer is in fifth place in the south division, just two points ahead of the Calgary Northstars, who own the final playoff spot in the division.

Even though they haven’t played as well as they’ve hoped this season, they’re happy with how they’ve played lately. That’s all that matters with playoffs around the corner.

“We just need to focus on playing consistent,” Moore said. “When we play good then no one can play against us. We just need to play our game and we’ll get there in the end. We’ll have a big playoff push.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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