It's been two months since the NCAA hockey season started, and while there were ample reasons for concern among Stars fans early in the season, both Devin Shore and Alex Guptill have rounded into form, reminding us of the fact that both of these young men are impact players to watch closely as they near their professional hockey debuts.
On November 23, Devin Shore and his Maine Black Bears faced a big challenge - the perennial powerhouse and early Hockey East favorite Boston College Eagles. Shore and the Black Bears answered with a statement of their own, steamrolling the Eaglies to the tune of 5-1.
Remember the early season concerns plaguing Shore? His inability to produce much outside of the power play? His relative disappearance against big time opponents and his seeming inability to dominate lesser opponents who should have afforded him more opportunities to produce? Well, Shore came out against Boston College and put some of the doubts as to his big-game pedigree to rest. He opened the scoring against BC just 37 seconds into the game and then helped put the game away with his second goal of the night after eight minutes of the second period.
Shore followed up with another impressive weekend. In Maine's 3-2 loss to Vermont on November 29, he tallied a power play goal while going 13-for-22 on the faceoff dot and putting five shots on net. The next night, Shore continued his hot streak, tallying another goal almost 18 minutes into the third period while going 8-for-18 on the dot.
It's good to see Shore finally scoring at this pace. He's more of a set up man, so expect to see his point totals even out a bit more as the season goes along and he starts racking up assists. But he's showing his incredible versatility during this streak. He can keep the puck or take it right to the net and be successful, something which every prospect needs to be able to do. If his current streak is any indication of the success he can have in the NCAA, he's well on his way to solidifying himself as a future option for the Dallas Stars.
On November 22, the Michigan Wolverines annihilated the University of Niagara. Guptill played an important part in that rout as he scored the fourth and fifth goals of the game in the third period to put it away. He followed that performance with an assist on J.T. Compher's second period goal against Ohio State, then added a goal of his own with 17 seconds to go in the period. Then, in the second game of their weekend series, he added an assist on another Compher goal.
Guptill is really coming on strong as of late. He's gone from good NCAA player to a guy who is able to dominate other players in the college ranks, announcing himself as a great prospect for the Stars. He's starting to put the puck into the net instead of just racking up assists, which is very good for him since he is traditionally a pure goal scorer. It'll be important for him to keep his scoring touch going forward.
It's been very good couple of weeks for the Dallas Stars in the NCAA. Both Shore and Guptill have rounded into form and are playing in a way that reminds us they shouldn't be forgotten when talking about the top prospects in the Dallas system.