Highlands Ranch native, Mullen grad Hertlein gaining valuable experience with USPHL’s Cougars
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The Chicago Cougars were always Alex Hertlein’s first choice for junior hockey.
He just wasn’t sure if he’d get the chance with the COVID-19 pandemic changing regulations across the country.
Things worked out, though, and the 2001-born Highlands Ranch native is enjoying his rookie season in the USPHL.
“The opportunity arose during the first couple months of quarantine because I was trying to figure out if the Cougars were going to be at the CCM Showcase in Colorado, which at the time, it had a chance of not happening, and I just sent (Chicago coach) Josh Dallmann some film and he said he’d give me a chance to play,” said Hertlein. “What was appealing to me about the Cougars was that it was decently close to my grandparents, who I was originally going to live with, and they also had winning history. The phone call I had with my coach was also very good and I thought I could grow a lot as a player if I played for the Cougars.”
So far this season, Hertlein has collected three goals and six points in 16 games for Chicago.
“On a personal level, this season for me had a slow start, but recently has been getting a lot better,” Hertlein said. “As a team, I’d say it’s been pretty good. We’re second in our division right now, working to get to the top and we have a lot of depth, so I think we have a pretty good chance of making it to nationals.”
Growing up, the Colorado Avalanche had a major influence on Hertlein deciding to take up hockey.
“I got into hockey because I’ve been watching Avs games on TV as long as I can remember and seeing how fast they were and how good they were with the puck really made me want to play,” said Hertlein. “My grandma took me to the rink when I was nine for my first time on ice. I started playing because I loved it so much and because it gave me an outlet and a sense of purpose.”
During his youth hockey career, Hertlein played house hockey at Arapahoe from the time he was nine until he was 14 and from there, played for Foothills at the Edge Ice Arena.
“I got cut from the AA team my first year trying out and then I made the team the following season,” remembered Hertlein.
After that, Hertlein played high school hockey for Mullen, graduating in 2020.
“I’d say the two coaches that have had the biggest influence on me would be my AA coach that I played for my sophomore year, Nick Turcotte, and a skills coach that I’ve been working with for a couple years now whose name is Dave Labbett,” Hertlein said.
With the USPHL season gearing up for an exciting finish, Hertlein wants to finish strong with the Cougars and play deep into the spring.
He’s also began to think about options for the future.
“My short-term goal every year is to try as hard as I can to make it to the next level,” Hertlein said. “Right now, for me, that’s either making it on to a Tier II roster or commit to play NCAA hockey somewhere. My long-term goal, just like any other guy, is to make it to the NHL, and if that doesn’t happen, I just want to put everything I have into hockey so I can walk away from the game with no regret. I don’t really have my backup plan figured out yet.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Jan. 27, 2021)