2009-10: Brian Cooper skated in 55 games for the Fargo Force in his first USHL season. He scored 3 goals with 10 assists and was plus-seven with 69 penalty minutes. Fargo reached the Clark Cup Finals after finishing second in the Western Conference and in 13 playoff games Cooper had 4 assists and was plus-five with 22 penalty minutes.
2010-11: Cooper was the leading scorer among Force defensemen in his second season with Fargo and played for the USA in the 2011 U19 World Junior A Challenge. He scored 11 goals with 22 assists and was plus-15 with 132 penalty minutes in 51 games. Fargo slipped to fifth in the West and lost in the second round of the playoffs. In five playoff games Cooper scored 2 goals and was plus-four with 18 penalty minutes. Cooper was named to the USHL All Star Game. In four games at the Junior A Challenge he scored 1 goal with 1 assist and 10 penalty minutes. He committed to playing college hockey at Nebraska-Omaha in 2012-13.
2011-12: Cooper skated in 55 games for Fargo in his final USHL season and again competed in the U19 World Junior A Challenge. He scored 6 goals with 18 assists and was a career-best plus-16 with 92 penalty minutes. The Force again reached the second round of the playoffs and in six playoff games Cooper scored 1 goal with 2 assists and was an even plus/minus with 8 penalty minutes. In five games at the Junior A Challenge he had 3 assists and 8 penalty minutes. He was invited to the NHL Draft Combine and ranked 68th amongst North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings prior to the 2012 NHL Draft.
2012-13: Cooper played in 32 of 39 games for Nebraska-Omaha as a freshman. After seeing limited time early in the season, he had a prominent role for the Mavericks skating alongside junior Bryce Aneloski (Ottawa). Cooper finished the season with 2 assists and was -7 with 45 penalty minutes. Nebraska-Omaha finished seventh in the WCHA and failed to secure an NCAA bid after falling to Minnesota State in a best-of-tree WCHA first round series.
2013-14: Cooper was one of two Nebraska-Omaha defensemen along with senior Michael Young to skate in all 37 games for the Mavericks in his sophomore season. Expected to be a puck-moving, offensive defenseman when he was recruited, he has developed more of a two-way game. Cooper was +5 and scored 2 goals with 7 assists and 30 penalty minutes. The Mavericks finished third in the NCHC in the conference’s inaugural season before falling to sixth-place Denver in a best-of-three quarterfinal series.
2014-15: Cooper was the second-leading scorer amongst defensemen for the University of Nebraska-Omaha in his junior season. Skating in all 39 games for the Mavericks, he scored 5 goals with 11 assists and was +14 with 55 penalty minutes. Nebraska-Omaha finished third in the NCHC, receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Midwest Regional after being swept by St. Cloud State in the NCHC quarterfinals. The Mavericks defeated Harvard (4-1) and RIT (4-0) to win the Midwest Regional before falling 4-1 to eventual national champion Providence in the Frozen Four semifinals.
Cooper is sort of a “kitchen sink”-type of defender. Shorter than most typical college defensemen, his defensive game is sound and he is not afraid to take the body. Offensively he is a good skater with good passing skills and a good shot, so he is able to contribute at both ends of the ice.
Cooper is in his senior season at Nebraska-Omaha in 2015-16. A team leader for the Mavericks, he has been a strong presence in his own zone and contributes on the offensive end. In his final season of college hockey, he must be signed by Anaheim before August 15th or he would become an unrestricted free agent. The Ducks' system is fairly well-stocked with defense prospects but if Cooper is not signed he is likely to find an entry-level deal elsewhere. He projects as a second- or third-pairing defenseman at the NHL level.