EDMONTON, AB - Shane Starrett signed with the Oilers organization in April, on the heels of an impressive 26-6-4 record with the Air Force Falcons. Starrett navigated Oilers Training Camp in the summer and has since settled in with the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL. The netminder, alongside his club, is off to a solid start this season. The team is first in the Mountain Division with an 11-2-1 record and Starrett is 6-1-1 with a .932 save percentage. EdmontonOilers.com caught up with Starrett to talk about his hot start and more.
Video: MINORS MINUTE | Jones' first as a pro
Seems like it's been a good beginning for you and the team, how have you assessed the start of the season?
"It's been great. The team got along right off the bat since camp. You could tell the chemistry was there and it's great to get off to a good start like that."
What is it about the team that has you guys off to such a good start?
"I think the chemistry between the lines has been great all season. They're playing really relaxed and confident. It's really helped. Guys don't go into the games worried about the game. There's a sense of trust and camaraderie going around the locker room."
Did that begin at Oilers Rookie Camp?
"I think so. I know me, (Evan) Polei and (Chad) Butcher all started up in Edmonton at rookie camp and then we got Greg Chase here now. We had (Kyle) Platzer and (Zach) O'Brien, who were here earlier. A lot of these guys played with each other beforehand. They know each other from growing up playing junior or major junior. So, I think a lot of guys came in seeing familiar faces and got along right away."
As for yourself, can you explain the start you've had?
"It's been pretty good. Obviously, I'm doing really well right now and I hope to keep it going but I think a lot of it is going to be challenging mentally, with a longer season this year. I'm going to need to keep this play up throughout the year. I'm hoping to maintain this level of play and not dip down. Hopefully, continue to get better each and every day."
You've been prone to success in the past few seasons and you mentioned that mental aspect being part of that. How are you going about balancing that confidence as a netminder?
"When I was 16 or 17 years old, I kind of struggled with consistency in my game. Once I hit 18 and 19 years old, I started to develop more consistency but I needed to prove it at a higher level. I think a lot of that is mental. You have to be mentally focused on an entire game and entire season. Especially when you get to these higher levels, one mental lapse and it could end up being a goal in your net. At this level, if you're mentally out for a shift, it's most likely going to end up in the back of your net. Recently, how I've had success, is maintain my focus by not putting too much on myself. Kind of having a relaxed approach going into the games, not so much overthinking the games."
Did you have expectations for yourself coming into this season?
"I know when I came in, I wanted to prove myself because I'm a rookie and no one's really seen me play or know what I can do. I really wanted to come in and make a statement early that I can play at this level and I can succeed at this level, too. For a lot of the people that were seeing me play for the first time, I wanted to show that I can play at this level and succeed."
Did Head Coach Malcolm Cameron let you know how you would be used this season before it started?
"He told me at the start of the year that it would be me and Joel Rumpel, the other goalie here, switching off basically every other game. The first game of the year, he started, then me in Game 2 of the year. We've gone back and forth a lot. I'll play two games and then he'll get in. If it's a three-game weekend, he'll tell us, 'You're going Friday, you're going Saturday, and then Sunday is up for grabs.' It's kind of a balance between earning it. You'll go into a weekend knowing you'll get one game but then you'll have to earn that second game."
VIEW ALL PROSPECT STATS
How was the jump from the Air Force Academy to the ECHL?
"Military Academy was more regimented and tries to keep you busy all the time. From a hockey aspect, I'd say there's a little more skill at this level. It's a little more fast-paced. Now, it's a level above college hockey. You're taking all the best guys from college hockey and putting them on teams and the best guys from major junior can make it at this level. It's a step further, faster and guys are a little bigger, too."
One thing I noticed about the ECHL is the nets have blue posts, something I've never seen. What's that about and is it different manning the twine between blue posts instead of red?
"I don't really notice it that much when I'm playing. It's pretty funny the first time you see it. It's kind of strange because you're not used to seeing them like that."
Wichita had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Night for a game. How was that and were you a TMNT fan growing up?
"That was a good night. That was Saturday and it was with one of our rivals, the Allen Americans. We sold out the entire lower bowl and the place was packed. It was a great atmosphere out there. But I didn't really watch (TMNT) growing up (laughing)."
As for Oilers Camp, what did you take from that experience?
"I really went into camp wanting to learn and better myself. It was good to see the type of level these guys are playing at. When I was at Oilers Camp, you're skating with the entire Oilers team and getting to watch them play and how they handle themselves. It was a learning experience. Especially for a college guy where I don't know anything different from college. In college, you go to class and practice but here, you don't have that school aspect. Guys might handle themselves differently than how a professional would. It was a good learning experience to see how NHL and AHL guys handle themselves and to see what it takes to succeed at the level."
Have you been able to develop a new routine now that you're not in college and playing pro?
"Yeah, the schedule is pretty much the same all practice days and game days are the same. I've started to pretty much get into the same routine each and every day, which is something I was used to at the Air Force Academy. At the Air Force Academy, you get into a routine and stick with it and if it worked for you, you'd keep doing it. That's what's happened here. Wake up, breakfast, practice, skate, stretch, go for lunch then have the rest of the day to yourself. I feel much better once I get into a routine and can know what the course of a day is going to be like."
Have you taken up any hobbies now that you don't have homework anymore?
"One of my buddies gave me a list of books to read. A lot of my friends try to keep me busy here and there by tossing me some things to do. My stall mate from the Air Force Academy Tyler Rostenkowski is actually stationed in Wichita. I'll go and see him every now and then. We played two years together and he just happened to be stationed at the Air Force Base in Wichita. He's now Air Craft Maintenance with the Air Force. This is a pretty big airbase and it's where he got stationed."
Photo credit to Johnna Raymond.