Growing up in Plano, Texas, Blake Coleman was introduced to ice hockey by his grandmother, a native New Yorker who would take Blake to Dallas Stars games when he was a youngster. Ice hockey became a passion for the young Coleman, one that has led him to pursue a career in the sport.
Coleman's quest to play in the NHL has landed him in Indianapolis where the 19-year-old center is putting up impressive numbers since joining the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League (USHL).
Acquired by the Ice in a trade with the Tri-City Storm in December 2009, the 5'10" 198-lb. Coleman scored eight goals and eight assists in 36 games with the Ice last season, and added two assists in nine playoff games.
Through 43 games this season, Coleman has scored 23 goals and 39 assists for a league-leading 62 points, statistics highlighted by his franchise record 5-assist effort in the Ice's 6-2 win over Waterloo on Jan. 2.
Coleman says that playing for Ice coach Charlie Skjodt has been a learning experience.
"He's been through it himself as a player" Coleman says. "Things like dealing with mental mistakes that a player can make on the ice. Even when we have a bad night Charlie tries to keep us on an even keel. And when we win, he doesn't let us get a big head about it.
"I have worked my way up to where I think Charlie has some faith in me and what I can do for the team."
Skjodt has shown faith in Coleman by placing him on the Ice's first line with 19-year old Daniil Tarasov and 18-year-old Brian Ferlin. The trio is among the USHL's top ten scorers: Tarasov is tied for third (with Dubuque forward Vinny Saponari) with 48 points (22 goals/26 assists) and Ferlin is 9th with 43 points (18 goals/25 assists).
"(Blake Coleman) plays with an edge," Skjodt says. "He is as good a player in the offensive zone as he is in the defensive zone. He has been a great story in the USHL this season as he went from being just a physical winger to someone who is in line to win the league's scoring title."
The upcoming "Pack the House for Charity" game against the Dubuque Fighting Saints will be Coleman's fourth game at Conseco Fieldhouse.
"It's incredible to play in front of so many people," Coleman says. "I have three goals in three games at Conseco. There isn't too much to change in how I play at Conseco (as compared to games at other arenas) even though it is a smaller rink there."