Ben Copeland: Skating His Way Into A Big Role

Story posted October 28, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Christopher Hess

It’s an adjustment transferring from one school to another, it’s an even bigger adjustment going from a school that has just over 2,000 kids to well over 40,000.

Ben Copeland did just that.

Following three years at Colorado College where the smooth skating forward tallied 50 points in 97 games, Copeland hit the transfer portal and decided that Penn State was the place for him.

But it wasn’t always a smooth path getting from his hometown of Edina, Minnesota to Colorado Springs, then to University Park.

Copeland played two seasons of Minnesota High School hockey, which is arguably one of the best development leagues to play in. He then decided to go the juniors route.

“Well, it was obviously a very hard decision leaving early from Edina and stuff because that is obviously an amazing, amazing city to play hockey,” Copeland said. “I just kind of thought that jumping to Waterloo there, Waterloo Blackhawks was the best thing for my future career ahead of me playing in a better league.”

When Copeland took his game to Waterloo, he played two full seasons, skating in 116 games and registering 77 points, including 62 in the 2017-2018 season where 44 of those were assists.

Copeland is a player that won’t necessarily light up the stat sheet in a normal collegiate season, but it’s his ability to create opportunities for his teammates with his quick thinking and blazing speed.
“I think my biggest assets, my speed and, you know, I want the puck on my stick,” Copeland said. “I try to do that, and hopefully have success for myself and my teammates.”

That transition from Colorado College to Penn State was one that may have seemed much larger initially, but a fellow Edina native made it that much easier.

Defenseman Clayton Phillips.

Copeland and Phillips were teammates on the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 Edina High School teams and have been extremely close for as long as Copeland remembers.

“He's one of my best friends and yeah, obviously he did have a big factor in me coming here and obviously you know it was a better transition with him here,” Copeland said.

Through four games in the blue and white, Copeland has three assists on the young season and has proven that he is perhaps one of the better skaters in the conference.

Kevin Wall is one of Copeland’s linemates and has benefited greatly from his contributions on and off the ice.

Wall attributes Copeland’s ability to think on the fly and be creative during game action to some of his success that includes six goals.

He also said that some of the nifty plays Copeland makes on the ice isn’t shocking in the slightest.
“It's not really a surprise to me. I mean, he does it in practice too so when you see it in the game, it’s just, he did it again,” Wall said. “But yeah he's awesome to play with, I think he makes me skate a little bit faster too so that's awesome.”

Copeland is just one of the few players that have come to Penn State via the transfer portal and buying into the Penn State way is what has made his transition smooth.

That ideology of getting pucks in deep, skating hard every single shift, getting down and dirty in-front, getting pucks to the net and generating offense any way possible has been Guy Gadowsky’s philosophy since he took over as head coach.

Copeland saw that ideology as an opportunity to improve his game during the offseason portal process and has taken full advantage of it.

“The coaching staff was a huge plus for me. That's one of the biggest reasons why I came here,” Copeland said. “And obviously the culture and tradition here at Penn State, that's pretty much why I chose to come here.”

It’s not about the journey, but about the destination. Copeland has not only embraced the journey, but also the destination.

“The school spirit is amazing here at Penn State and I can't ask for anything else than that. So far, it’s been unbelievable and I have no regrets. It's been awesome,” Copeland said


Christopher Hess is a fifth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email christopherhess22@gmail.com.