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Shore shows he's ready to reach next level

by James Murphy /
Denver Pioneers sophomore center Drew Shore knew exactly what he needed to do in the offseason to become the player everyone expected he could be.

At 6-3, 195 pounds, Shore, drafted No. 44 by the Florida Panthers in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, has the potential to be physical two-way forward and if he wanted to start realizing that potential, it was time to hit the gym. Not that the Denver native -- who grew up wanting to play like former Avalanche great Peter Forsberg -- had a bad freshman season with 5 goals and 14 assists in 41 games, but he and those around him knew he could be better.

"I really wanted to get stronger because with my height and reach I felt if I was stronger I could be more effective," Shore said. "I spent a lot of time in the gym and just conditioning and I think that's helped me a lot. I think being stronger helps me demonstrate and use my skill level more because I can battle for pucks harder and win those battles. I wanted to be a presence both in front of the net and in the corners. It helps in the forecheck and really, all aspects."

Well, the hard work has paid off because Shore already has 14 goals and 25 points in 20 games and has become a centerpiece of the Pioneers' attack while playing a sound, physical two-way game. He was named player of the month in November, scoring 7 goals, adding 7 assists and recording at least one point in each of his team's seven games, including three multi-point showings. He finished the month with 3 power-play goals, a game-winning goal, and was a plus-9.

"We think he has the potential to be a great two-way center in the NHL.  We obviously like his size and the fact he will get even bigger. He put a strong emphasis on strength and conditioning and that impressed us and I know the coaching staff at Denver has done a great job with him."
-- Panthers pro scout Mike Yandle

Shore credited Denver head coach George Gwozdecky for helping him realize what he was capable of on the ice and building his confidence.

"Coach has helped me a lot," Shore said of Gwozdecky's guidance. "He took me aside a few times and showed me what I needed to do and kept my confidence high."

Gwozdecky is seeing the results of that improved confidence now and is happy to have a solid two-way player he can depend on in crucial situations.

"He realizes he can be a dynamic player out there when he's on his game," Gwozdecky told the Denver Post. "He's certainly a guy that we can count on in any situation at both ends of the ice."

The team that drafted him in Montreal in 2009 is also starting to realize why they did so and what kind of player it will have when Shore turns pro. Panthers pro scout Mike Yandle has watched Shore play numerous times and every time he does, the 19-year-old pivot has improved and become stronger.

"We think he has the potential to be a great two-way center in the NHL," Yandle told "We obviously like his size and the fact he will get even bigger. He put a strong emphasis on strength and conditioning and that impressed us and I know the coaching staff at Denver has done a great job with him. You look at where he is now compared to last season and I think he has improved tremendously. I like his attitude and willingness to learn and improve, and I think that's why you're seeing the production this season. He's more confident on the puck and winning those hard battles."

Shore will be trying to win those "hard battles" in Buffalo starting Dec. 26, as he was named to United States team this past Wednesday for the upcoming World Junior Championship. For Shore, donning the red, white and blue will be an honor and he's looking forward to helping the USA defend its gold on home soil.

"It's awesome," Shore said. "I've always looked at playing for my country as an incredible honor and to help them win gold again would be amazing, especially because it is on home soil and we'll have the fans behind us. I'm really excited."

After that, Shore is looking forward to helping the Pioneers compete for a national championship and defend their WCHA title.

"I think we have a good team here and we've shown that we can compete with the best," Shore said. "It's going to be an exciting second half to the season."

Campus Notes -- Dr. Michael Collins, a former Notre Dame defenseman and now a Chicago-based orthopedic surgeon, is the winner of the 2010 Lou Lamoriello Award. Named in honor of the former Providence College player, coach and administrator and current New Jersey Devils president and general manager, the Lamoriello Award recognizes a former college hockey player or coach who goes on to a distinguished career in or out of the game of ice hockey. Collins played 44 games for the Irish from 1968-1970, and finished his college career with 3 goals and 11 assists. While there, Collins saw Notre Dame hockey become a Division I varsity sport. Upon graduation, Collins spent several years driving a cab and working construction before finally deciding upon medicine as a career. After returning to college for two extra years to take pre-med courses, he attended the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine followed by five years at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Collins is now a full-time, board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Hinsdale Orthopedic Associates in Hinsdale, Ill. … The United States and Canadian World Junior teams have been announced and there are nine NCAA players on the two teams. Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Dylan Olsen and Colorado College forward Jaden Schwartz will suit up for Canada while John Ramage (Wisconsin), Chris Kreider (Boston College), Jason Zucker (Denver), Andy Iles (Cornell), Justin Faulk (Minnesota-Duluth), Derek Forbot (North Dakota) and Jon Merrill (Michigan) will suit up for the USA when the tournament begins in Buffalo, NY, on Dec. 26.
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