UPEI Men’s Hockey Panthers recruit local defenceman Cole Larkin
The UPEI Men’s Hockey Panthers are excited to welcome Mermaid, PEI, native and defenceman Cole Larkin to their team for the 2023–24 season.
Over the last two seasons, the UPEI Panthers have been one of the conference’s best defensive teams. It’s a standard head coach Forbes MacPherson wants to maintain, and he hopes his team’s newest recruit can help rebuild the blue line that’s been so effective.
Amid a roster overhaul, Larkin is already the second Islander to join the Panthers this offseason, and it’s safe to say he’s excited to join the hometown team.
“It’s definitely a special thing to come back home and play in front of family and friends,” said Larkin. “I grew up watching the Panthers, and now to get a chance to play for them is awesome. I’m definitely thankful for this opportunity.”
Larkin spent the past four seasons with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan, where he captained the team in his final season. The 20-year-old defenceman recorded nine goals and 80 assists in 268 games with the club. He also had a short stint with the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL at the end of the 2022–23 season.
With the Titan, Larkin has experience playing for two types of teams: a championship-calibre team and a rebuilding one. With the Panthers in a transition stage themselves, having someone like Larkin in the locker room can only benefit them.
MacPherson said Larkin is a defenceman that goalies will appreciate, with his high hockey IQ and ability to make the right reads when the puck is in their own zone.
“Cole is a very reliable and steady defenceman. He can be an anchor to our D-core and bring stability to our lineup and dressing room.”
As an incoming rookie, Larkin knows the season will have its challenges, but he’s prepared to do anything he can to make it a successful one.
“There are going to be a few changes on the back end this year, so I’m just going to go to the rink every day and work hard and show the coaches I can be trusted out there.”
At six-foot-two, 185 pounds, Larkin brings plenty of size to the blue line and meets the profile MacPherson is looking for in his defencemen. Still, his first order of business is getting stronger to withstand the physical rigours of the AUS.
“I think the biggest difference between leagues will be the strength and size, so my main focus is to get stronger.”
With that drive of always wanting to improve, the Panthers may have found another star along the blue line.