Just a few weeks before the 2011 Entry Draft, Nick Cousins was handed an interesting school assignment. "I'm supposed to write a biography of my life," said the 17-year-old Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds forward. "It's all about me."
The assignment probably would have been tougher to complete earlier this school year. However, the last two months or so have been something of a whirlwind for the young center.
Following a tough season that saw the Greyhounds finish with the fewest points in the Ontario Hockey League's Western Conference, Cousins enjoyed a standout run for Canada at the World Under-18 Championships. After starting the tournament on the team's third line, Cousins was shifted to the top trio, alongside Brett Ritchie and Mark Scheifele. That line found instant chemistry, culminating in Cousins scoring the winning goal against Germany in the quarterfinals before Canada bowed out in overtime against the United States in the semis.
From there, Cousins attended the NHL Scouting Combine to showcase his skills for each of the League's teams.
"It was an unbelievable experience. The interview was probably the best part," Cousins said. "One team, I forget what team, asked me why I should be drafted instead of (Greyhounds teammate) Daniel Catenacci. That was the only question I wasn't ready for."
It's hardly surprising that Catenacci's name would come up in Cousins' interview. The two high-scoring forwards both attended the Combine after carrying the Greyhounds' offense this past season. Catenacci and Cousins are No. 37 and No. 71 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft, and were longtime on-ice rivals in minor hockey.
"We're best friends now," Cousins said. "I know growing up we didn't really like each other. Now we're on the same team and we have the same goal. I had fun hanging out with him at the Combine; someone to go eat with and stuff. It's a lot of fun knowing that one of your best friends is going through the same process."
With the draft fast approaching, Cousins has plenty to draw on from the past two months for his school assignment. But he already had some benchmarks on his resume long before joining the Greyhounds. Cousins led the Quinte Red Devils to a Minor Midget title, beating Catenacci's York-Simcoe Express in the championship game. He also had one major individual accomplishment under his belt before then.
"I was in tyke, I think. I was 8 or 9. My mom worked for the (local) paper. She kept track of my goals that season," Cousins said. "I had 109 goals in 50 games. She wrote an article about me."
It turns out the 109 goals was a season record for that age group. The previous record holder also starred for the Greyhounds -- Wayne Gretzky. If nothing else, that scoring record should figure nicely in Cousins' school assignment.
"I just asked my mom where that article is," Cousins said. "She's gone to look for it right now."