This was a pretty slow week for Stars prospects in the NCAA as Alex Guptill's Michigan Wolverines had the week off and Devin Shore's University of Maine Black Bears faced off against fellow middle of the Hockey East pack University of Vermont Catamounts.
If you were wondering, as I was, about what a 'catamount' is, it's basically a silly way to say mountain lion. One would think that if the University of Vermont wanted to intimidate feral opponents such as the Black Bears, Wildcats, and Eagles, they'd choose a more intimidating name rather than one that sounds like a cat wearing a monocle. Perhaps cougar, puma or even a two-word name such as mountain lion would put a bit more fear into the hearts of their Hockey East enemies, but I digress.
In the first game of the weekend, a 2-0 victory, Devin Shore continued his fine pace with an assist on Ben Hutton's opening and game-winning goal with 4:44 left in the game. The assist was Shore's fourth of the season and fifth point in nine total games played. He finished the game with five shots on net and 13 out of 20 faceoffs won.
Shore disappeared a bit the next night. He fired another five shots on goal and won 11 out of his 18 faceoffs, but he failed to register a point in the crucial game. After going down 4-1, the Black Bears mounted a rally, scoring two goals in the final frame to bring the score within one. Unfortunately, they couldn't sneak a last puck past University of Vermont goaltender Mike Santaguida to force overtime. That's the sort of situation where Devin Shore needs to start coming up big for his team this season. Sweeping a conference rival or even just getting an overtime point out of the second game would have been very helpful for Maine's place in the standings.
Last year, Shore was a bright spot on a dismal University of Maine team; this year, he needs to take the next step and become a catalyst and clutch player for the Black Bears. He has to become a leader, and with the kind of talent he has, part of that leadership needs to come in the form of putting the team on his shoulders when they most need it - something which he's failed to do so far this season.
Five points in nine games may not seem like anything special, and it's fair to expect a bit more out of Shore, But to be fair, he was held pointless for the first few games so you could also say he has five points in his last seven games to make it sound a bit better.
While he's picked his game up since firing blanks to start the season, Shore has left something to be desired on the scoresheet. After turning heads early and often in his freshman season, things aren't going as well for the young sophomore. Maybe it's because he's playing with new linemates and without his finisher Joey Diamond. Maybe it's because he's being checked more closely by more aware defenders. Or maybe it's because he's not pushing the play enough. The bottom line is that he'll have to get better as the season progresses both for himself as an NHL prospect and for his team if Maine has any hopes of making a playoff run in the spring.