Cooper Simpson will be taking his talents to a higher level next season.
The sophomore led the Shakopee boys hockey team this past winter to its first-ever playoff win as a Class 2A program, leading the team in points on the season with 63 (37 goals, 26 assists) in 27 games.
But next fall, Simpson will be skating in the United States Hockey League with the Tri-City Storm out of Kearney, Nebraska. The 6-foot, 170-pound forward signed a tender agreement April 24 with the franchise for the 2023-24 season.
“I’m super excited to join this organization,” Simpson said in a press release from the franchise. “The Tri-City Storm is a great team. I hope to help the team win a lot of games next year, and I would like to thank my parents for all of their help along the way.”
Simpson scored 102 career points in his two varsity seasons for the Sabers. The 16-year-old also led the team in goals scored as a ninth-grader with 24, adding 15 assists.
Back in March, Simpson was one of 45 players from across the country, including 12 from Minnesota, who were invited to USA Hockey’s National Team Developmental Program in Plymouth, Michigan.
The evaluation camp helped select the 2023-24 U.S. National Under-17 team.
“Cooper joins the Storm as one of the premier offensive talents in the 2007 birth class,” Tri-City General Manager Jason Koehler said. “He has been a weapon for the past two seasons in Minnesota high school hockey, various events, and with teams on which he has played. We are ecstatic to sign Cooper, and welcome him and his family to Kearney next season.
“We had a unique opportunity to have Cooper attend camp with us last summer,” Koehler added. “He thoroughly impressed our staff, and the desire for him to wear our purple jersey has finally come to fruition. We thank Cooper and his family for trusting us with his development moving forward, and we are excited to watch him grow into a standout USHL forward, as well as a high-level college and pro prospect.”
Last winter, Simpson led the Sabers to a 16-11 overall record, including 10-6 in the South Suburban Conference. He scored two goals in Shakopee’s 3-1 home win over Prior lake in the Section 2AA quarterfinals.
The Sabers were 0-14 in the playoffs going into this past season. The program joined the top class in hockey at the start of the 2007-08 school year.
Following the win over Prior Lake, the Sabers lost 3-1 to Minnetonka, the eventual Class AA state champion, in the section semifinals with Simpson scoring the team’s lone goal.
The 16 wins were the most for Shakopee as a Class 2A program. It was also just the program’s second winning season in the last 15 years.
For more on the Tri-City Storm, go to stormhockey.com. The franchise is one of 16 teams in the USHL, which is the top junior ice hockey league sanctioned by USA Hockey for players between the ages of 16 and 21.
The league is strictly amateur, allowing former players to compete in NCAA college hockey.