Assistant Equipment Manager Cooper Gage makes dreams come true with 67s

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By: Frankie Benvenuti

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As Cooper Gage celebrates his 45th birthday on Wednesday, his passion for hockey shines through as he and his family settle in to watch Team Canada at the World Juniors. That passion is surpassed by one thing only: his love for the Ottawa 67s.

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Gage, affectionately known around the rink as simply « Coop », serves as the team’s assistant equipment manager, helping set up the locker room on game day and assisting equipment manager Chris Hamilton with everything which he needs.

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Years before getting the job, Gage stood out in the crowd and cheered on the Barber Poles through the ups and downs. At the time, Gage said the idea of ​​working for 67 was something he was interested in, but it wasn’t something he thought possible. That was until a pair of highly acclaimed alumni in town brought him in.

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« I had season tickets for years before Dan Tessier and Carter Trevisani hired me as assistant equipment manager, » Gage recalled.

Being assistant equipment manager, or locker room assistant in any capacity, was a goal for Gage, who at various points in his life found work wherever he was. Of course, having the chance to work with the 67s was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, something he savors every day when he’s at the rink.

“I always wanted to be in charge of equipment, it was my dream job,” Gage said. “I used to do it for men’s hockey back then growing up, but being able to do it now is awesome. I never thought it was possible. »

Gage says he’s appreciated the kindness and working relationship with every player, coach and team staff member throughout his journey since being hired in 2018, whether it’s former head coach André Tourigny , former equipment manager Jake McKercher or the players and coaches currently in Ottawa.

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Although many of them are younger than Gage, he says they became role models for him at the rink and carved out a special place in his life.

« I’m 45 and I look up to young guys, » Gage said with a laugh. « But it’s good to have a great team like this. »

His closest relationship comes with Hamilton, of course. Gage has no negative word for Hamilton, who has worked for the 67s since 2009, becoming chief equipment manager in 2012. He says Hamilton has been instrumental in showing him the ropes at the OHL and took him under his wing. .

Hamilton’s impact on Gage was immense, and a big part of why he wanted to work with the Barber Poles in the first place. A chance to work with grizzled veteran Hamilton was too hard to pass up.

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But just like Hamilton, the players were one of the best parts of the job, says Gage. There’s no denying how cool it is to go from being a fan to playing a role behind the scenes and seeing the players up close and personal, but the players have helped make this transition even more special.

Gage takes a serious liking to the players, who have accepted him into the 67 family, just like they have with everyone else on the team.

« You can’t say enough about the boys, » Gage said. “I can never thank them enough. They are wonderful children.

In his time, Gage is fully aware of all the special moments he has witnessed. Although he only played 67 home games, he appeared in many significant games in the team’s history, including the playoffs in 2019 and two straight 50-win seasons.

« The championship race was awesome, » Gage said. “From there, all the playoffs, [all of the other experiences] has been amazing.

The first half of the 2022-23 season has only added to Gage’s memory, and he hopes the second half of the season will be just as successful. If there’s a guarantee of anything, however, it’s that Gage will be at the rink every game day with a broad smile, eager to do whatever he can to help.

Ottawa returns from the holiday break Friday afternoon, hosting the Kingston Frontenacs at 2 p.m.

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