One first-year on the men’s hockey team has played for many teams throughout his career, and this season he must adapt to a new team again.
Despite that, forward Liam Coughlin said he’s used to change. Coughlin spent most of his life in South Boston, affectionately known as “Southie.”
“[Growing up in Southie] was amazing,” 21-year-old Coughlin said. “I was around family and friends, and everybody knew each other.”
Coughlin started skating at the age of 4, and was playing hockey not long after that. “My dad played hockey, my older brother played hockey. It’s in the family,” he said. Coughlin was captain of his high school team, Catholic Memorial School, for two years.
“My coach, coach [Bill] Hanson, was one of the best coaches ever, and to be captain under him was great,” Coughlin said. During his second year, he posted 28 goals and 48 points before electing to leave Boston for junior hockey.
Coughlin was drafted into the United States Hockey League by Iowa’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, but decided to play junior hockey in Vernon, British Columbia, with the British Columbia Hockey League’s Vernon Vipers.
“My first year was definitely a little different. I wasn’t comfortable at first, but a couple months in, I was happy,” Coughlin said. ”It’s a great place, a beautiful place, and I’d go back if I could.”
During his first season in Vernon, his team hosted the Royal Bank Cup, which is the national championship for Canadian Junior A teams. Vernon was knocked out in the semifinals, but Coughlin, who notched two points, described the tournament as, “one of the best experiences of my life.”
After his first season, Coughlin was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
“In Southie, there’s a big street hockey tournament, and everyone goes,” Coughlin said. “It was on the same day as the draft. I’m just waiting around, playing a little street hockey; finally I get the call, and it was amazing. It was announced over the intercom at the street hockey tournament and it was unforgettable.”
After posting 105 regular season points during his time in Vernon, Coughlin’s NHL rights were traded this summer from Edmonton to the Chicago Blackhawks.
“It’s definitely the business of hockey. Chicago’s been wanting me for a few years,” Coughlin said. “I thought they were going to draft me, but Edmonton beat them to it.”
Coughlin said he is aware about the business of professional hockey.
“It’s definitely the business, but I’m definitely more motivated and I want to show Chicago that I can be their guy one day,” he said.
Coughlin, listed at 6-foot-2-inches, according to UVM athletics, describes himself as “a big body who can have a lot of net front presence,” and head coach Kevin Sneddon agrees.
“Liam adds size to the wing position, skates very well for his size, and can add offense as he has proven during his junior career. We believe Liam will be an impact player right away,” Sneddon said, according to UVM athletics.
As for goals this season, Coughlin just wants to impress Sneddon and his fellow coaches: “I want to just show the coaches and my teammates that I can play out here, every game, every shift.”