Wildcat Alum Scores his First NHL Goal

Cole McWard scores his first NHL goal in his second game professional game.


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Cole McWard playing for Westminster

Cole McWard was a stand out hockey player during his time at Westminster, where he was a crucial part of the back-to-back state championship winning team. Cole is a very dynamic defenseman that controls the defensive zone while also being a thread on offense. He is a two way player that always has an influence on how the game goes. Cole only attended Westminster through his Sophomore year before leaving to play Junior hockey in Chicago in order to get recruited to play in college. He was very successful in junior hockey and proceeded to move up the ranks through college and now into the NHL. 

On Saturday April 8, 2023, McWard scored his first NHL goal for the Vancouver Canucks in just his second game with the team. Cole is a powerful defensemen that played two seasons at The Ohio State University. This year, Ohio State lost in the second round of the Frozen Four Tournament, and just ten days later he signed his first two-year entry level contract with the Canucks. Just three days later, he was skating his rookie lap and getting ready for his first ever NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

“Cole is a very special player and very easy to coach. His competition level was off the charts and he controlled the game every shift he was on the ice. He was also a perfect balance of humble and confident,” said Westminster hockey coach Dean Penberthy.

  In his first professional game, Cole recorded 14 minutes of ice time and a blocked shot. It was a great way for him to experience what it’s like to play in the NHL. Obviously it is a huge adjustment moving from college to the professional level. Everyone is bigger, faster, and stronger and you have a lot less time to react. Cole was able to adjust to the change of pace quickly and in just his second NHL game he got the Canucks on the scoreboard nine minutes into the game. Cole used his powerful shot from the blue line to notch his first professional goal. In that game, Cole recorded one goal, eleven minutes of ice time, and two blocked shots. Each game Cole plays, he gets more and more comfortable on the ice and he has potential to make a big impact in the seasons to come. Unfortunately, the Canucks missed the playoffs this season, so Thursday April 13 was Cole’s last game of the season.

Cole now has the off season to come back home and get ready for next year. Since he signed a 2-year entry level contract, he will begin playing somewhere in the Canucks organization whether that be for the NHL or AHL team. It was great for him to get some experience in the NHL before the end of the season, so now he knows what to expect and what he needs to do to be ready for next season.