Coach sees Ethan Coups as big defensive stopper

Goderich native one of three 16-year-olds on the 2020-21 Lincolns 

By Pat Payton

One of the big defensive stoppers on the St. Marys Lincolns this season might just be a 16-year-old.

That’s how head coach Trent McClement sizes up defenceman Ethan Coups, one of several new blue-liners on the 2020-21 team.

“Ethan’s size is the first appealing part, that’s what scouts look for,” McClement said in a recent interview with the Independent. “He’s a good skater and he’s really good defensively.”

The coach says Coups is also a player with a “good stick.”

“It just means that when forwards are coming down on you, you’re using your stick to direct them to the outside — rather than letting them come into the middle of the ice,” he explains. “They have their stick out in front of them, and they use it to propel where you want the (opposing) player to go.

“That’s huge for a defenceman. It shows that he’s been well-coached and he’s paying attention when coaches are telling him things.”

Coups, who is 6 ft., 3 inches and 200 lbs., was a member of the Huron-Perth Lakers ‘AAA’ Minor Midgets last season. The Goderich native had four goals, 26 points and 99 penalty minutes in 46 games with the Lakers. He added 12 points and 36 penalty minutes in 17 playoff games.

Seventh-round OHL pick

This past summer, Coups was a seventh-round draft pick of the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm.

“You look where Guelph drafted him, they’re looking at him being a defensive defenceman,” McClement noted. “In the future, he’ll probably be a shutdown defenceman.

“He could see some of that with us at the Jr. ‘B’ level. I don’t think he’s ever going to be like (NHL defenceman) Erik Karlsson and light up the scoreboard. I think he might be like (Max) Mulder and (Brett) Whitehead, defencemen the last couple of years that we put out against the better players on the other teams.”

McClement says the upcoming season will be a “learning experience” for Coups and help prepare him for a higher level of hockey down the road.

“When you’re 6 ft. 3 inches, with his size at his age, if you want to learn and get better, I think the sky’s the limit for Ethan. With his work ethic, he might just be a one-year project with us. But with the type of season we’re having with Covid and getting started late, it might hurt some kids like him.

“I’d love to see him one year here (in St. Marys) and then joining Guelph the following season. But in reality, he might be a two-year project here. And when he does get to (the Storm), he’ll be playing significant minutes.”

Coups says his goal is to definitely play Major Jr. ‘A’ with the Storm.

“Right now, St. Marys is the closest thing to it, and I’m hoping to possibly play in Guelph the year after,” he told the newspaper. “I want to learn some good skills here, and then make the next step. The Storm have told me to get a good year of Jr. ‘B’ in, and then see where I’m at next year. I want to focus on this year right now and see where things go from there.”

Two-way defenceman

The left-shooting Coups describes himself as a good two-way defenceman, who hopes to adapt quickly to the faster pace of Junior hockey.

“I take pride in playing well in the ‘D’ (defensive) zone, using my size and ability,” he said. “I can also use my skills offensively. I hope to play a big role on this (Lincs) team. We have a lot of young guys and hopefully we’ll all jell together and have a good season.”

With over 100 minutes in penalties last season, Coups says he can also play a physical game. “I don’t give anybody an extra inch and I use my size to my advantage.”

Coups says his favourite NHL players are defencemen Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings) and Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins). “I try and play a style more like Doughty’s game. He’s a big body and plays both ends of the ice well.”