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Brandon Coe Misses His Dad; Merkley Out Again With Injury



Source: Bakersfield Condors

While Brandon Coe is typically a private person, he had something to share: “For Dad”.

“I think it was just a better decision to put my story out there rather than keep private this time,” Coe said.

In 2,200 words published on The Players’ Tribune, Coe penned a heartfelt letter to his mentor and hero, his father, Lance Coe.

“It was definitely a bit difficult, but I think in the long run it was a better idea just to put my story out there,” Coe said. “Not only for the sake of myself … but for other kids to see that they’re not alone with the process that they could be going through.”

Coe described their close relationship, his own journey through the ranks of hockey, and his father’s struggle with multiple myeloma cancer. The article was published Oct. 8, the day after Coe was selected 98th overall in the NHL Entry Draft. Lance passed away Oct. 16.

Coe, 19, made his professional debut Mar. 12 with the Barracuda. 

“If he was here with us, I’m pretty sure I’d have gotten a nice text from him saying that he’d be watching from home, that he’s very proud of me,” Coe said. “But I know he was there watching up above, making sure that I was working my hardest. Being the dad that he was, he never missed a game. I’m sure he was up above watching me that night.”

Coe was the second-leading scorer on the OHL’s worst-performing team in 2019-20. After recording 25 goals and 32 assists for the North Bay Battalion in 2019-20, Coe was ranked 35th of North American prospects by NHL Central Scouting prior to the 2020 draft.

The San Jose Sharks selected the Ajax, Ontario native in the fourth round. To get the No. 98 overall pick, the Sharks traded a 2021 third-round pick, originally owned by Washington, to Montreal. After the draft, Doug Wilson Jr. highlighted Coe’s size, skating, and goal-scoring ability. Standing 6-foot-4, Coe possesses surprising speed. 

“[He doesn’t always realize] the opportunities he gets because of his speed, what he can generate offensively because of his speed,” North Bay Battalion assistant coach Bill Houlder told the Locked on Sharks Podcast in November. 

Coe made his AHL debut Mar. 12, at Bakersfield. | Source: Bakersfield Condors

“I think my [strength is] my play-making,” Coe, the Battalion’s assist leader last season, said. “Being a bigger guy and being able to skate and make plays, I think is one of my bigger attributes.”

With the start of the 2021-22 OHL season delayed, Coe and fellow recently-drafted forwards Ozzy Wiesblatt and Tristen Robbins received an early look at the AHL.

“It’s been awesome,” Coe said. “In a regular year, I don’t think we’d have this chance to be here this long to learn from the other guys, learn the style of play, and try to take my game to the next level.”

While Wiesblatt and Robbins each got a couple games in with San Jose in February before returning to their junior teams, Coe hasn’t played since his professional debut Mar. 12.

“It was a lot faster than the OHL,” Coe said. “Guys are back-checking a lot faster and taking your time and space away.”

The OHL remains as the final Canadian major-junior hockey league to not begin its 2021 season, with Coe having “no clue” when it could begin. However, living with teammates Kurtis Gabriel, Ryan Merkley, and Zachary Gallant has given Coe a new place to call home.

“Finally living alone is definitely a little bit of an eye-opener,” Coe said. “It’s been a good experience with these guys.”

Coe said his roommates, particularly Gabriel, have helped improve his diet.

“We’re pretty big on brown rice,” Coe said. “Mostly, I think I’m just staying away from junk food.”

He revealed: “Merkley’s actually a pretty good cook himself. I don’t think too many people would take that for him, but he knows his way around the stove pretty well.”

Coe described Merkley’s most recent dish— a dinner of steak, mashed potatoes, and sautéed peppers.

“It was a pretty good meal,” Coe said. “I’m just on dishes duty, so it’s easy for me.”

Cuda Hold Off Condors

The Barracuda (7-6-4-1) scored four unanswered goals in a 4-2 win over the Bakersfield Condors (11-9-0-1) Tuesday night.

Merkley missed his second game of the season due to injury, according to Nick Nollenberger on the Barracuda broadcast. Merkley had sat out Mar. 21 due to an aggravated wrist injury, according to head coach Roy Sommer, but played Mar. 24.

Goaltender Josef Kořenář, center Fredrik Händemark, and defenseman Christian Jaros all returned to the Barracuda from the San Jose Sharks taxi squad.

After a six-day break, the Barracuda fell into a 2-0 second period deficit. Jacob Middleton scored San Jose’s first goal, assisted by Jaros.

Four minutes later, Joachim Blichfeld skated around the Condors’ net to set up Gregor’s game-tying goal. Gregor has three goals and four assists in 10 games with the Barracuda.

Then just three minutes later while on the power play, Stefan Noesen and Blichfeld set up a tic-tac-toe play for Alexander True to score. True’s sixth goal of the year gave San Jose its first lead of the night.

Returning from a six-game stint with the San Jose Sharks, Händemark scored the eventual game-winning goal after Joel Kellman snuck a pass through two Condor defenders.

The Condors added another goal late in the third period, but the Barracuda shut down a late Bakersfield power play for the 4-3 win. Kořenář (4-0-2) made 30 saves in his fourth win of the season after spending two weeks on the Sharks taxi squad.

The Barracuda will travel to play the San Diego Gulls Saturday night.

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