Nolan Cole signs with Railers 24 hours after tryout camp

Sixty-two players showed up at the Worcester Ice Center for the Worcester Railers Junior Hockey Club tryout camp the first weekend in June, but only one was prepared to sign a contract under 24 hours later.

Nolan Cole only appeared on Railers General Manager and Head Coach Sean Bertoni’s radar a month prior to the three-day camp, but interest immediately bloomed between the two parties. Cole’s former coach and current advisor Geoff Marottolo reached out to Bertoni, which began the process.

“Geoff contacted me and said, ‘Sean this is your type of player. He hunts pucks, he’s tough, and he’s the most competitive player on the ice,’” Bertoni recalled.

When Marottolo had first coached Cole with Donohue Hockey Skills, a split-season team prior to high school hockey, he had told the 05’ forward he was capable of playing junior hockey.

“It was something I always had aspired to do,” Cole said. “I love the idea of coming to the rink every day to work on your craft, competing against bigger and stronger players compared to midget and high school hockey, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

After watching his film, Bertoni invited the North Haven, Connecticut native to tryout camp.

“I didn’t know too much about the Railers besides their previous success and the unreal facilities, not to mention where they send their players after juniors,” Cole said. “That stood out to me.”

Cole certainly stood out to the Railers as well. According to Marottolo, it took Bertoni just an hour of watching Cole live before he received a call.

“I called Geoff, and I told him, ‘Nolan Cole will be a very good Railer!’” Bertoni went on to label Cole as a “tenacious player that will bring a lot of energy to the Railers” as well as a “simple player who plays the game the correct way.”

It was an equally beneficial experience for Cole, who when asked what he brings to the Railers, replied with “energy.”

“The camp was a 10 out of 10 experience,” he said. “I felt like it was meant for me. I really loved the competition every player had. It was fast paced, simple, and aggressive hockey that matches myself and my play-style.”

For Marottolo, it’s that exact style which pointed him and Cole toward the Railers.

“It’s a match made in heaven,” he said. “I think he’s going to play very good minutes. He’s not just a guy who skates. He can shoot a puck and make a hockey play too.”

Behind his strong showing and the advice of Marottolo, Cole came to his decision under 24 hours after camp.

“Geoff Marottolo had nothing but unreal things to say, and my family puts a lot of trust in his word. After the pace of camp, it was a no brainer. I think being in an environment where everyone has the same goal of being a better hockey player and getting recruited is going to be awesome,” he said.

Cole will come to the Railers as a Connecticut Division 2 state champion. He and his North Haven teammates capped off a strong year with a ring, “a really special season with my best friends,” as Cole describes.

Over the summer, he will continue to work with Marottolo on the ice. “He has almost three months to get even better,” Marottolo says. “That’s a lot of time.”

Cole plans to spend much of his summer in the gym as well, working on strength and conditioning. He’s also altered his nutrition habits and paid greater focus on his body’s health.

He believes the Railers will offer more than just on the on-ice benefits.

“They offer you more than just hockey. They help you become a man. Balancing school and work all revolving around a hockey season teaches you responsibility,” Cole said.

In sum, Marottolo characterized Cole as “abnormal.”

“To win in life and to win in any sport, you have to be abnormal,” he explained. “He exemplifies that. He gets after it.”