Danny Cockriel ends final year of Ducks hockey after four years as starting goaltender
Engulfed in a snowsuit and padded with his helmet and gloves, a three-year-old, purple-cheeked Danny Cockriel waddled onto ice for the first time at his local rink in Englewood, Colorado. Cockriel was a member of the Learn to Skate program and he, like the other members, fell. A lot.
Every time he hit the ice, he’d look up at his mom and she’d run to the glass shouting, “Danny! Danny! Do you want to sit out?” Every time, his response was to shake his head ‘no.’ Every time, he’d continue on.
“He wouldn’t leave the ice,” said his mother, Tracy. “It was so funny. He’d just love it.”
Even though Danny remembers the moment a little differently — “I absolutely hated it,” he said — he remembers begging to go back the next week.
Danny has come a long way since being in the Learn to Skate program. Now 22-years-old and a senior at the University of Oregon, he’ll be graduating at the end of the year with a degree in business administration. He’ll also end his tenure as Oregon hockey’s starting goaltender, a role he’s played since his freshman year. With the Ducks, he’s gone to the Pac-8 playoffs for four consecutive years, won two I-5 Cups and played on the Pac-8 All Star team. The team even had a run at the championship his sophomore year, before ultimately losing to Utah in the finals.
“Especially two years ago, I don’t think we would’ve gotten as far as we did without Danny,” said defenseman Terran Donnelly. “We needed a rock in net to really propel us to as far as we did.”
Although Danny’s time with Oregon hockey will be done at the end of this season, the lessons he’s learned and the memories he’s gained from playing with the Ducks will always remain. His favorite is one that he shares with his mom: beating Utah in a shootout in an arena packed with Utes fans. At the time, Utah was No. 1 and Oregon was No. 2 in the Pac-8.
“I basically stood on my head the entire game,” Danny said. “They outplayed us the whole time, but I snuck us the win somehow. All of their fans were going crazy after we beat them. They were throwing tampons at us on the ice. It was wild.”
“You would’ve thought he had just won the Stanley Cup,” Tracy said. “The whole thing was surreal. I think he felt the same. I was so excited. No one beats Utah, they are just a step above (everyone).”
Just as the memories will linger for years long after this one, the relationships he’s made are here to stay too.
“I love all the guys I’ve played with,” Danny said. “I’ve made a ton of friendships that will last for a lifetime, or for a while at least. Found some good connections, tons of memories, tons of stories. I love them all and I hope they continue to work hard. I see a bright future for the program.
“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to play hockey here,” he continued. “It’s been a ton of fun.”
Follow Anne Yilmaz on Twitter @anneyilmaz.
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