Coventry Blaze’s Mitch Cook: ‘I’m glad I made the move, it’s been great so far’

Mitch Cook, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)
Mitch Cook, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)

In his first interview since arriving in the Elite League, Mitch Cook said he is grateful to be playing “competitive hockey” following his mid-season transfer to the Coventry Blaze.

Cook, 27, was forced to sit out last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and returned to the ice in 2021-22 with Bulldogs de Liège in the cross-border BeNe League.

“It was fun, I really enjoyed it,” the Canadian said of his time in Belgium and the Netherlands. “Hockey’s not the biggest sport over there but I got treated really well. I didn’t play last year because of COVID, so it’s great to just be playing.”

After graduating from the University of Calgary, Cook penned his first professional contract with the Kalamazoo Wings, only for the ECHL outfit to suspend operations amid the pandemic.

“I was supposed to leave for Kalamazoo in early December [2020] and then, two weeks before I was meant to go, the team announced they weren’t playing,” he said. “That kind of messed up my plans a little bit. There were a couple of other teams [interested], but it was too late because I couldn’t skate in Calgary, the rinks got shutdown and I was too far behind.”

After a year in the stands, the right-shooting winger made an unusual switch, signing for Liège where he registered 42 points (21 goals, 21 assists) in 19 games. Given Cook, a two-way forward by trade, notched 58 points (25 goals, 33 assists) in 128 appearances for the University of Calgary, a transfer to a stronger league was on the cards.

Mitch Cook’s Switch to the Blaze:

That’s where the Blaze come in. With his roster depleted by injury and retirement, Coventry head coach Danny Stewart was on the lookout for a winger and found a match in Cook.

“Mitch is a guy we feel got lost in the shuffle a bit during COVID,” Stewart said. “He had a really good USports career in a tough conference and got better every year he was there… he has a great work ethic and hockey IQ to go with it. I feel he will add to our depth and be a key guy down the stretch.”

From Cook’s perspective, the transfer developed quickly.

“Obviously, I had to work with Liege to make that transition possible,” said the Kelowna product. “My agent and Stewie know each other a little bit, so that helped the process.”

Cook added: “It was a crazy week, moving and joining a new team. We had a three-in-three as soon as I got here, so I got thrown right into it. But I’m glad I made the move; it’s been great so far.”

The 27-year-old’s arrival in the West Midlands also sees him reunited with Dane Gibson, a former University of Calgary teammate.

Dane Gibson, previously of the University of Calgary (Image: David Moll)
Dane Gibson and Mitch Cook were University of Calgary teammates between 2017 and 2020. (Image: David Moll)

“It’s been great,” Cook said of the duo’s reunion. “Me and Dane got close over the last few years, we were supposed to go to Kalamazoo together last season. He’s been huge helping me meet new teammates here. I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done so far.”

Mitch Cook on Finding His Feet in the Elite League:

Since arriving at the Skydome Arena, Cook has experienced the best and worst of the Elite League. He bagged an assist on his debut, played six games without registering a point, and then watched from the bench as Coventry’s match-night announcer was ejected by referee Stefan Hogarth.

Related: Row rumbles on after Coventry announcer gets ejected by referee

“I wasn’t sure what was happening for a while,” the Canadian said of the incident. “Then I saw he was getting kicked out, or whatever, so, yeah… a little strange, I’ve never seen that happen before.”

On the ice, the 27-year-old has enjoyed being in a new environment and was pleased to score his first goal in Blaze colours last weekend.

Mitch Cook, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)
Mitch Cook, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)

“Yeah, it was good,” Cook said of his first Elite League goal. “It was an empty-netter but just getting on the board is huge.”

For now, though, Cook’s only focus is on delivering for his new teammates and fans.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to help the team score and win,” Cook said of his mindset heading into the final stretch. “We’ve had some great crowds. They’re energetic, they’re into the game, we’ve had a couple of wins at home. The crowd’s awesome, let’s keep winning for them.”

How many regular-season goals will Mitch Cook score in the Elite League? Send your predictions to @BritIceHockey.

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