The NCAA season got off to a shaky start from the Dallas Stars' perspective. Devin Shore seemed to fade into the background a bit as several freshmen on the University of Maine squad stepped up and took the spotlight. Alex Guptill appeared to continue his trend from last year of displaying some unprofessional tendencies, so he was held out Michigan's first game.
Any doubts about these two solid prospects are starting to be put to rest through consistent, if not awe-inspiring, play. Six weeks into the season, both Shore and Guptill seemed to have settled into their roles and gotten focused, allowing them to turn back to what made them second round NHL draftees - scoring points.
Shore and the Black Bears only played one game this weekend against their Hockey East rivals (and my current school) Boston University. Fortunately for Shore, and much to my chagrin, the Black Bears mauled the Terriers to the tune of 7-0. It was a huge statement game for the University of Maine after a pretty lackluster start to the season. While BU has not been the contending team the rest of Hockey East has become accustomed to, putting up 7 goals and shutting out any team in the NCAA, especially the Hockey East conference, is no small feat.
Shore made sure to do his part in the blowout. He opened the score 10 minutes into the game with the eventual game winner. Nine minutes and 53 seconds later, Shore set up Connor Leen on the power play, earning his second point of the night where he's become the most productive - on special teams. At the end of the game, Shore finished with a plus-2 rating and three shots on goal while going 6-for-10 on the faceoff dot.
It's good to see Devin Shore settle into producing a bit more regularly for the Black Bears. He doesn't have to set the world on fire every night, but it would be huge for his development if he became the kind of player Maine can rely on to put a couple points up every weekend if nothing else. It is also very good to see him start to get points at even strength. Power-play quarterbacks are great, but you want your centers to be well rounded enough that they can play in all situations and remain productive. So it's good that he's trending in the right direction.
Guptill continued his strong play this season with two assists in Michigan's weekend series against the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. On Friday, Guptill registered an assist on J.T. Compher's go-ahead goal in the second period. While his Wolverines gave up the lead and fell to the Mavericks by a score of 3-2, Guptill finished with a strong game, registering four shots on goal and an even plus-minus rating.
The next night, Michigan came out looking for vengeance and put Nebraska-Omaha away 4-3. Guptill assisted on the game-winning goal, ensuring his team a weekend split to keep them in second place. He finished the game with two shots on goal and a plus-2 rating.
Guptill is starting to show why the Stars took him in the second round on a more consistent basis. Like Shore, he's not running away with any scoring titles, but he's starting to prove he'll show up every night and contribute in one way or another. While Guptill is a scorer and it, would be nice to see him scoring more goals, a point is a point, and assists are just as important as goals are. So it's promising for him that even when his shots aren't going in, he's finding ways to beat opponents with passing and hard work.