Coppola lighting it up for Mission AZ 18U Red squad By Greg Ball
icolas Coppola has been skating with the Mission AZ youth hockey program outside Phoenix since he was a Pee Wee, and as he approaches the end of his run with Mission, he’s in position to leave the program as one of its best players ever. Coppola, a 17-year-old forward on Mission’s 18U AA Red team and a high school senior, is among the leading scorers not only in AZYHL play (with four goals and two assists in five games), but also has excelled in the highly-competitive environment of the Central States Development Hockey League, where he has tallied an impressive 15 goals and 20 assists in 18 games.. Mission AZ hockey director Jeremy Goltz said Coppola is among the top players he has coached in his long career behind the bench. “What makes him special not only his skill set but his compete level daily,” Goltz said. “He wants to be the best every day and even against top national competition, he has been the best player on the ice almost every game this year. “He has a unique blend of skill, work ethic and being coachable. He should go down as the best Mission player of all time, and that is saying something.” Coppola first laced up a pair of hockey skates and picked up a stick when he was four years old and started with the Mission program in his second year of Pee Wees.
“Mission is everything that a hockey player could ment Camp three times for his age group, and that he want and need to develop into the best player they can has always excelled. Coppola is also the only skater in be,” Coppola said. “It’s truly a family at Mission, and the program’s history that Goltz has moved up a level I’ve never felt the same way anywhere else. The coach- - which he did last season - and Goltz said that only motivated his young star to push ing there is great, with Coach himself even harder. Goltz and the assistants - Coach So what’s next for Coppola? (Chris) Carouchi and Coach He hopes to play junior hockey and (Terry) Tessmer. I’ve never felt use that as a springboard to playlike I needed to leave because I’ve ing NCAA Division I hockey. His been getting the skill development ideal landing spot would be Arizoand competition that I need from na State - where he can stay close the program.” Coppola’s best attribute on the to home but also thrive playing for ice is his speed, helping him zoom one of the premier programs in the western United States. past opponents and get to pucks “I’m hoping to go play juniors that other players may not. He also for a couple years and see where has placed a heavy emphasis on that takes me,” Coppola said. “I chemistry within his line, which he would love to play in the NAHL understands has a big impact on next year and then end up at Arithe line’s scoring ability and ultizona State. I’ve been a fan of the mately the team’s win-loss record. program since I was a little kid, and “I love to show up at the rink it would be a dream to go there.” and every time I’m there, I try to AZ 18U Red forward Nicolas Cop“I have talked to Coach (Greg) put in 100 percent effort and re- Mission pola has been an offensive juggernaut this ally strive for perfection,” Coppola season, averaging nearly two points per Powers about him, and he is gosaid. “I want to spend every minute game in CSDHL play with 15 goals and 20 ing to get him a tryout this sumtrying to make myself and my team- assists for 35 points through 18 games. mer,” Goltz added, adding that he mates better.” thinks Coppola’s development will really take off under Goltz noted that Coppola has been selected for the the tutelage of high-level college coaching. “The sky’s Rocky Mountain District’s prestigious Player Develop- the limit once he hits that level.”
Happy Holidays from all of us with Mission AZ!
The December issue of Arizona Rubber Magazine, featuring the Arizona Titans on the cover, has hit the streets!