Achieving Dream of Playing Division I Hockey, PDS Alum Coffey Debuts for Colorado College
COFFEY BREWING: Tyler Coffey, left, controls the puck in action this winter in his freshman season for the Colorado College men’s hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout forward Coffey has an assist in 10 appearances for the Tigers so far in his debut campaign. (Photo provided courtesy of Colorado College Athletics Communications)
By Bill Alden
Tyler Coffey is living out a dream this winter as he starts his career for the Colorado College men’s hockey team. The former Princeton Day School star decided years ago that he would like to play college hockey someday.
“In the eighth grade, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue,” said Coffey, reflecting on his goal to play at the next level. “My parents were always big on me getting an education and being able to play hockey at the same time.”
In addition to thriving on the ice for the Panthers, Coffey appreciated the education he got at PDS.
“I felt PDS was the best option right there, I was there through my junior year,” said Coffey. “The three years I did have at PDS really prepared me for Colorado College.”
After starring for PDS over three seasons, Coffey moved on to juniors to help increase his chances of playing at the next level, playing for the New Jersey Hitmen of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL). He was named the USPHL Forward of the Year in 2017 after leading the league in goals (37) and points (60). A year later, Coffey tallied 46 points on 27 goals and 19 assists for the Hitmen.
Coffey then headed west to play for Tri-City Storm (Neb.) and Sioux Falls Stampede (S.D.) of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He was sidelined by injury with Tri-City and then scored 12 points on six goals and six assists in 18 games for Sioux Falls during the 2019-20 campaign.
For Coffey, playing juniors proved to be a key stepping stone in his transition to Division I college hockey.
“I started playing junior hockey in my senior year in high school, that is when I got most of my exposure,” said Coffey, who did online schooling to complete his high school education.
“After that, I went over to the USHL, Tri-City, and Sioux Falls. My time in Tri-City wasn’t as great because I was hurt. Sioux Falls was awesome, that place will always hold a special place in my heart. I had a great time there. I had a great billet family. It was an awesome arena, I don’t think I will ever play in an arena and a place like Sioux Falls.”
As he considered college hockey programs, Colorado College emerged early on as the right fit.
“CC was the first college that reached out, I talked to a few other schools in the process,” said Coffey.
“Scott (PDS head coach Scott Bertoli) also played for Mike Haviland (Colorado College head coach) as well. Bert always emphasized what a good guy Havy was and he is not wrong. The NCHC (National Collegiate Hockey Conference) is the best conference in college hockey in my eyes.”
Arriving at Colorado Springs this past August, Coffey was primed to excel at the next level.
“The whole reason of playing at Tri-City and Sioux Falls for those two extra years was to develop, to become bigger, faster, and stronger,” said Coffey.
“With college hockey, they will bring you in when they feel you are ready and when you will make an impact. I really didn’t have any questions about my ability this year. I knew I was ready. I am a strong kid.”
Coffey’s college career got off to a unique start as Colorado College played its first eight games in a bubble hosted by the University of Nebraska Omaha.
“That was pretty cool, I give a lot of credit to Omaha, the school, and the fact that they were able to put that together” said Coffey.
“There were no problems in the bubble, it was very well organized. Each player had their own hotel room and all of that. If there was any problem, the whole team would have to go into quarantine. We were testing every single day.”
Seeing his first action for Colorado College against Omaha on December 9, Coffey quickly learned how physical the game is at the college level.
“I would say the speed is about the same as juniors but we are playing against men, guys who are 24, 25,” said Coffey.
“So I would just say it is a much heavier game than junior hockey. I don’t think it can even compare to high school hockey.”
Getting up to speed, Coffey picked up his first point for the Tigers when he assisted on the team’s first goal in a 4-3 overtime loss to St. Cloud State on December 18.
“That was awesome, I back checked and I got the puck, battled, and then just flicked it up,” recalled Coffey.
“I did what I was told and it paid off. We scored the first goal of the game, that was an awesome feeling. It was a confidence builder but I am still itching to get my first goal here. I have had a few opportunities. It is definitely hard to capitalize. I have to keep shooting the puck, there is not much time and they are right on top of you.”
In order to have a better chance of capitalizing on those opportunities, Coffey is focusing on combining strength with speed.
“I am always getting stronger; I always have had the ability to shoot the puck but my skating ability has gotten better since high school,” said Coffey, who has the one assist in 10 appearances so far this season.
“Sometimes I don’t realize how fast I am. Being strong, I can use my speed and be good in corners. I have put on about 15-20 pounds since I have gotten to CC. I am 5’9 and I am like 190 now. I still have to get used to playing at that weight. I have to be a little more physical and use my body a little more.”
With the Tigers having posted a 3-13-2 record so far this winter, losing a number of nail-biters along the way, Coffey is hoping to use that physicality to help the team get on the winning track.
“We do play a lot of tough teams, it is the NCHC so the games can go either way,” said Coffey.
“For us, we have to execute better. It is just making that pass or putting the puck in the back of the net. We are itching to start getting wins.”