Coyle to be imposing presence for Team USA

When Team USA and Russia face off tonight at the Centrium in a world junior exhibition game, U.S. forward Charlie Coyle will begin his test run through Canadian Hockey League buildings.

When Team USA and Russia face off tonight at the Centrium in a world junior exhibition game, U.S. forward Charlie Coyle will begin his test run through Canadian Hockey League buildings.

Along with that Red Deer stop, Coyle and company will see their share of CHL rinks in the next two weeks as Team USA plays its tournament preliminary games at Rexall Place in Edmonton and playoff-round games at the Saddledome in Calgary.

Those arenas might be most familiar to U.S. forward Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers, but they’re new ground for the likes of Coyle, who is about to jump into the CHL waters in a big way.

Coyle was a sophomore at Boston University, but he bolted last week and committed to the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Sea Dogs are the reigning Memorial Cup champions.

“To be honest, I haven’t watched a lot of major junior,” Coyle, 19, said Sunday night after a Team USA practice at the Enmax Centre in Camrose.

“I’ve always been a college guy and that’s what I’ve watched out for. It’ll be a different change, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m just going to keep playing my game. I think that’s why Saint John liked me, so we’ll see what it brings. I’ll just keep working hard and playing my game.”

That power-forward style made Coyle, now a Minnesota Wild prospect, a first-round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2010.

“I’ll be a two-way player,” he said. “I like to use my body. Kind of a power forward. Just shoot pucks. I think I could score, when needed to, and I’m a pretty good passer. Just be a physical presence out there.”

Coyle is an imposing presence at six-foot-three and about 215 pounds.

“I guess I’m not done growing yet, so that’s a good sign,” he said with a smile.

Coyle is finished with school, however, in a move that he believes will expedite his journey to the NHL. He had multiple suitors from the QMJHL, but the champion Sea Dogs proved they can win off the ice, too.

“They’ve been asking about me for a few years . . . a year or two,” Coyle said of the Sea Dogs, whose head coach is former NHL head coach Gerard Gallant and whose manager is former NHL assistant coach Mike Kelly.

“I was at BU and I enjoyed my time there. I loved it there, but I think it was just time for me to focus on going for my pro career and just focusing all on hockey. Kind of putting the school behind me. I think Saint John is a great place to do that.”

He’s already familiar with Sea Dogs forward Zack Phillips from their time together last summer at the Wild’s development camp. Phillips was cut from Team Canada last week, but two other NHL first-round picks from Saint John, defenceman Nathan Beaulieu and forward Jonathan Huberdeau, are part of the Canadian lineup.

“They’ve got a few guys on the (Canadian) team, so it’ll be a good battle,” Coyle said of going against his new Saint John teammates. “I’m really looking forward towards that. Just have a good tournament, and we’ll see a few of the guys along the way.”

Canada faces the U.S. on New Year’s Eve at Rexall Place.

Coyle is among 28 players vying for 22 jobs with Team USA, which is based in Camrose this week. After tonight’s game in Red Deer, the U.S. meets Switzerland on Wednesday in Camrose and Slovakia on Friday in Three Hills in other pre-tournament games.

Coyle, who landed in Camrose with a BU Terriers equipment bag on his shoulder, hopes not to carry any NCAA baggage into his second world junior championship.

“I’m just trying to focus on this tournament, making this team (and) having a good tournament,” he said. “We’ll deal with that when it comes later on, so for now, I’m just focused on the task at hand.

“We got a bronze (medal) last year, but you don’t aim for a bronze. You want the gold. We get another chance to go after it again this year. And that’s what we want. We want to hear our anthem at the end, (standing) on that blue-line, seeing our flag raised. That’s what we’re working towards.”

That was the scenario two years ago when the U.S. defeated Canada in overtime in the final at Saskatoon. Two players, goaltender Jack Campbell and forward Jason Zucker, are back from that gold-medal team, as is U.S. head coach Dean Blais.

One of Coyle’s teammates at Boston University, defenceman Adam Clendening, is part of the Team USA mix this year.

“He’s a big loss, but it might make our team stronger,” Clendening said of the Terriers. “You look at guys who play big roles already and they might play an even bigger role than what they have now. Guys are going to have to step up.

“It was a personal decision … whatever happens, happens with him, and we have to move on as a team. Nobody is throwing in the white flag.”

Whether it’s Team USA or the Sea Dogs, those clubs are getting a versatile player in Coyle, Clendening said.

“If he plays down the middle, he’s a good, strong centreman, responsible in his own zone. He can play both ways — very skilled offensively, but at the same time, doesn’t lack the defensive side of the puck. Just a good all-around player that can play in all situations.

“Same thing on the wing. Just a strong up-and-down guy that can grind it out, if you need it, or can play a skilled game. He’s very versatile.”

Coyle has left a BU program that’s reeling after its top scorer, Toronto native Corey Trivino, was kicked out of school last week after being arrested in connection with an alleged sexual assault against a female student.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man rides his bicycle past fields covered with volcanic ash a day after the La Soufriere volcano erupted, in Kingstown, on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Saturday, April 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre)
‘Huge’ explosion rocks St. Vincent as volcano keeps erupting

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — La Soufriere volcano fired an enormous amount of… Continue reading

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
Canada set to receive 1M Pfizer-BioNTech doses, Moderna playing catch-up

OTTAWA — The federal government is expecting Moderna to make good on… Continue reading

This satellite photo from Planet Labs Inc. shows Iran's Natanz nuclear facility on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Iran's Natanz nuclear site suffered a problem Sunday, April 11, involving its electrical distribution grid just hours after starting up new advanced centrifuges that more quickly enrich uranium, state TV reported. It was the latest incident to strike one of Tehran's most-secured sites amid negotiations over the tattered atomic accord with world powers. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)
Iran blames Israel for sabotage at Natanz nuclear site

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran blamed Israel on Monday for a… Continue reading

Map of Syria. Turkey is to the north. (File photo)
Investigation finds Syria likely behind 2018 chlorine attack

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — An investigation by the global chemical weapons watchdog… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,183 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

50.5% of all active cases are variants of concern

Ron Howard is photographed at the "Inferno" film premiere on Oct. 25, 2016 in Los Angeles. (Buckner/Rex Shutterstock/Zuma Press/TNS)
Brothers Ron and Clint Howard have memoir coming in October

NEW YORK — Filmmaker-actor Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard, brothers, former… Continue reading

FILE - In this Saturday, March 27, 2021 file photo, Buffalo Sabres’ Taylor Hall plays against the Boston Bruins during the second period of an NHL hockey game, in Boston. The Buffalo Sabres could trade 2018 MVP Hall, who signed for just this season and is a pending free agent. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
Boston Bruins acquire Taylor Hall to kick off NHL trade deadline day

Trade deadline day in the NHL has started with the Boston Bruins… Continue reading

The Huawei logo displayed at the main office of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Poland’s Internal Security Agency has charged a Chinese manager at Huawei in Poland and one of its own former officers with espionage against Poland on behalf of China. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Huawei, HSBC agree on document deal for extradition case

HONG KONG — Chinese telecommunications equipment firm Huawei said Monday that it… Continue reading

The Montreal Police logo is seen on a police car in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

MONTREAL — Hundreds of protestors gathered in Montreal on Sunday in defiance… Continue reading

Security and police block the entrance to GraceLife Church as a fence goes up around it near Edmonton on Wednesday April 7, 2021. The Alberta government has closed down and fenced off a church that has been charged with refusing to follow COVID-19 health rules. Alberta Health Services, in a statement, says GraceLife church will remain closed until it shows it will comply with public-health measures meant to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hundreds gather to support Alberta church shut down for ignoring COVID-19 orders

SPRUCE GROVE, Alta. — Hundreds of people are gathered outside an Alberta… Continue reading

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces is developing contingency plans to keep COVID-19 from affecting its ability to defend the country and continue its missions overseas amid concerns potential adversaries could try to take advantage of the crisis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian special forces supported major Iraqi military assault on ISIL last month

OTTAWA — Some Canadian soldiers supported a major military offensive last month… Continue reading

A woman pays her repects at a roadblock in Portapique, N.S. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. The joint public inquiry in response to the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced a mandate that includes a probe of the RCMP response as well as the role of gender-based violence in the tragedy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Creating permanent memorial to Nova Scotia mass shooting victims a delicate task

PORTAPIQUE, N.S. — Creating a memorial for those killed in Nova Scotia’s… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Erin O’Toole says ‘I didn’t hide who I was’ running for Conservative leader

OTTAWA — Erin O’Toole assured Conservative supporters that he never hid who… Continue reading

Most Read