Danny Cobb is unique among Ewing High School athletes.
The sophomore’s Lawrence High School ice hockey team jacket draws questioning looks, but Cobb is thrilled to have the chance to play high school hockey since Ewing does not have its own team.
“It’s not weird,” Cobb said. “I basically feel like a Lawrence kid. I’m good friends with all the Lawrence kids, so it’s not weird at all. At school, it’s different. They all hate Lawrence and they’re rivals. It’s funny when I wear my Lawrence jacket.”
The jacket raises eyebrows of fellow Ewing students, but it also piques their interest.
“I still get a lot of questions,” Cobb said. “Like, ‘We have a hockey team?’”
Ewing hasn’t had its own ice hockey team since 2009-2010. The next year it formed a co-op with Lawrence. That co-op was still in place when Cobb’s older brother, Billy, played his freshman year on it. The next two years, Lawrence co-oped with Hightstown and Ewing combined with West Windsor-Plainsboro North.
Billy Cobb returned last year with Cobb now in high school as well, as Ewing again went into a co-op with Lawrence and Hightstown. After Billy’s graduation from Ewing and subsequent entry into the U.S. Marine Corps, Cobb is the only Ewing ice hockey player this year.
“I love it,” Cobb said. “I’ve played with most of these kids in travel too. I played with them when my brother was a freshman. I got to practice sometimes. I know all of them so it’s nothing new.”
Cobb has played the last four year for the Lawrence Flames travel program. He knew former Lawrence High head coach Jon Ritchie, and has been rotating in goal with P.J. Keenan for first-year head coach Clifford Higgins and assistant coach Jon Patterson.
“We have four goalies,” Higgins said. “Danny competes with a senior from Lawrence. It’s day by day, and that keeps them engaged. We decide who starts the next game. So far, they’ve gone back and forth. They are both top quality goalies and we have faith whoever’s in. For us, it’s great. It keeps it competitive and keeps our practices competitive.”
Cobb is looking for Lawrence to improve. They went 0-2-1 in his first three starts, but Cobb had good numbers with a .912 save percentage and 73 saves total while allowing seven goals.
“Definitely I wanted to get a better save percentage than last year,” Cobb said. “I wanted to keep it two goals max every game.”
Cobb is disappointed with the start for Lawrence, but they are still figuring out their strengths after losing significant senior contributors from last year’s team that was unbeaten against Colonial Valley Conference Valley Division foes.
“We don’t have much depth,” Cobb said. “Our defense is pretty good. We had to make changes. Drazen (Medich) usually plays defense but we had him up on forward. There were changes, but it’s decent.”
Cobb continues to develop into a leader for Lawrence. He has come in ready to help the Cardinals compete for the Valley Division title again.
“He’s solid,” Higgins said. “He’s quick. He’s athletic. He’s a leader during timeouts, he’s in there talking about what he sees in front of him and talking to the defense. He stops the puck. He’s got a pretty good save percentage so far.”
Fitting in hasn’t been a problem.
“You’d think they’re from the same high school the way they get along,” Higgins said. “It’s been great. I don’t know if it’s because they play together in travel or what, but it’s like they come in and have been doing this for years.”
Cobb and the Cardinals are fighting through some early tough luck. Lawrence was the victim of some misfortunate bounces in its 0-4-1 start to the year.
“In high school for me, there’s always something that goes wrong,” Cobb said. “It’s just bad luck. All the goals, they’re bad bounces. One went off a stick on my own defenseman and through my five-hole into the net, that’s what caused us to tie Robbinsville. It’s like a different atmosphere. High school and travel are two different things to me. I’m getting comfortable.”
Cobb has always found himself most comfortable in goal. He took skating lessons when he was 8 years old, and then started to play ice hockey for an Ice Land Skating Center team. Cobb also skateboards, but found a passion for ice hockey early.
“My dad, we have a lot of hockey stuff in our man cave,” Cobb said. “We have a lot of Devils stuff. We used to go to a lot of the Trenton Titans games. And then becoming a goalie, my brother used to shoot on me with knee hockey sticks, and Martin Brodeur got me to really play goalie. He’s an inspiration. He’s the best goalie. If we played street hockey, I’d always play goalie.”
Cobb even played goalie last year when he tried lacrosse for the first time for Ewing High. While he isn’t sure about sticking with lacrosse, he is thrilled to get another season of ice hockey.
“I play all year-round,” he said. “As soon as travel ends, I go right to high school. As soon as high school ends, it goes right to tryouts and travel.”
Lawrence is sorting out its combinations in the early going. They are trying to maximize their experience with a mix of new talent.
“Between last year and this year they lost 95 percent of their scoring,” Higgins said. “You have a couple guys back. They lost a lot of guys too. It’s a little bit of a slow start. We’re trying to find the right chemistry now.
“We have some work to do,” he added. “There are some good teams there. I think we’re in the middle. We have to work hard to be successful here. Our start doesn’t look like it’s very good, but we’ve been competitive and we’ve held true. We have to play with a bit of a chip on our shoulder. We’re not the team we were last year. We have to get our chemistry together and go from there and see what happens.”
Higgins is happy that the roster includes someone with Cobb’s experience. He can help this year and in coming seasons after Keenan graduates.
“I think he’s heading in the right direction,” Higgins said. “He has a great attitude and great leadership.”
He’s hoping that Cobb’s leadership will develop further as he gets more ice time with this year’s group, and as he continues beyond this year. Cobb’s play has given Lawrence hope as it figures out how to bolster its offensive production.
“Our defense is pretty solid,” Higgins said. “It’s our stronger part of our team right now. We have some senior guys on there, and we also have some younger guys back there. It’s a good combination. We try to get the shots from the outside so our goalies can eat them up.”
Cobb has been encouraged by the progress on the team, and he sees potential. He is confident that Lawrence will have it figured out soon.
“We have the hustle there, we just have to mentally start thinking,” Cobb said. “On ice, we have to take better shot opportunities. I feel like we’re missing the net a lot. I feel like we are, and we could be scoring a lot more goals. There’s not a lot of chemistry because a lot of kids are moved around, but it’ll all start coming. We just have to play.”
Danny Cobb is happy to have a chance to play ice hockey, even if it’s not for Ewing High.
“Not many people know,” Cobb said. “Some kids know I’m the kid that plays hockey.”