He is one of hockey’s newest sensations, a 20 year old mighty mite who has already become a folk hero of sorts for the under dog Montreal Canadiens and their improbable Stanley Cup run of 2021.
Born in Mosinee, Wisconsin but with Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario roots that extend to his dad, Paul Caufield, and his late grandfather, Wayne Caufield, young Cole Caufield was well schooled when he left the University of Wisconsin-Madison Badgers earlier this year to sign a National Hockey League contract with Montreal.
And while there are those who insist that major junior hockey, as opposed to the United States college game, represents the quickest and most desirable route to the NHL, don’t tell that to the youngster Caufield.
The all-time record holder for goals scored with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, Caufield could just as easily had opted for the Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League over the University of Wisconsin when it was time to move up to the next level of the game.
But instead of heading to the hometown of his dad and grandfather and signing with the Greyhounds, who had made him a 12th round pick at the 2018 OHL priority selections draft, Caufield chose to commit to the University of Wisconsin and play for the Badgers.
Before he headed to Wisconsin, Caufield lit it up for a final season with the USNTDP to the tune of 72 goals in 64 games during the 2018-2019 campaign.
Those numbers were enough for Caufield to be selected by Montreal with the 15th pick of the first round of the 2019 NHL draft.
What is interesting, though, is that no less than six of Caufield’s teammates — including four forwards — from the USNTDP were drafted ahead of Caufield in the first round of the 2019 NHL draft.
What scared some teams away from Caufield was the speedy, skilled forward’s size at 5-foot-7, 162 pounds.
Caufield, though, has already proved the doubters wrong at the tender age of 20.
After playing just two seasons of college hockey for Wisconsin where he netted 49 goals in 67 games, Caufield was ready to turn pro late in this 2020-2021 season. He scored three goals in two games for the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League before netting four goals in 10 regular season NHL outings for the Canadiens.
And now, after being a healthy scratch for the first two games of the current NHL post season, Caufield has become a goal scoring, electrifying presence for the Canadiens on what has been a magical Stanley Cup playoff run.
And a few words about his aforementioned dad, Paul, and his late grandfather, Wayne.
Paul played for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point from 1988 to 1992 and remains the school’s all-time leading scorer.
And Wayne, who was inducted into the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011, left his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie in 1972 to play semi pro hockey in Milwaukee. He remained in the Milwaukee area after his playing days and spent more than two decades coaching youth hockey and managing hockey clinics in Wisconsin. Sadly, Wayne died in July of 2018 at the age of 75.
As for Paul, being the son of Wayne and dad of Cole, he took the time to take to Twitter and send me a message after I wrote an earlier story about Cole that also mentioned Paul and Wayne.
“Thanks Randy,” Paul wrote. “My father passed on the love of the game that he learned in the Soo to our family and many more in the state of Wisconsin.”
No doubt that Wayne is bursting with pride from above at the NHL exploits of grandson Cole.