VANCOUVER – Add another name to the growing bunch of NHL players from the St. Louis area. One newcomer has earned his opportunity near the end of the regular season.

Cole McWard, born and raised in Fenton, made his NHL debut with the Vancouver Canucks last Thursday.

McWard, a 21-year-old defenseman, made a strong impression in his debut Thursday, generating two shots of goals and four hits with 17 minutes of ice time. In his next game Saturday, he followed up with his first NHL goal and two blocked shots.

“Couldn’t be happier to be here,” said McWard to Vancouver media ahead of his Canucks debut. “It has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. Getting to wear the Canucks logo is going to be something special.”

McWard joined the Canucks shortly after completing his sophomore season for Ohio State University’s men’s hockey team. He blocked 97 shots and produced 37 points over 75 college games. For the past season, he also earned Academic All-Big Ten and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete accolades.

He also brings years of experience with USHL’s Tri-City Storm, the St. Louis Blues’ AAA Blues youth development program and Westminster Christian Academy. McWard is currently playing for the Canucks on a two-year NHL entry deal.