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Wings' top pick is a YouTube hit

by Michelle Crechiolo / Detroit Red Wings
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DETROIT – A 37-second video clip on YouTube (WATCH BELOW) shows a 15-year-old Riley Sheahan perform dazzling moves with a stick and puck in the driveway of his parent’s home in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Even though it’s already garnered more than 13,000 views, the Red Wings’ top 2010 draft pick would rather no one know about it.

“I wish I could take it off right now, but I don’t know how to take it off YouTube,” he laughed. “It was a few years ago, all the kids thought it was pretty impressive, but if you look at it now, it looks pretty embarrassing.”

The 18-year-old Sheahan, who was the No. 21 overall pick last month in Los Angeles, has matured a lot since a friend of his filmed the clip. He’s coming off his freshman year at the University of Notre Dame, where he tallied six goals and 11 assists in 37 games for the Fighting Irish.

“Playing against older guys, you’re playing some teams with 24, 25, 26-year-olds,” Sheahan said. “So it was definitely a really big learning experience, seeing them with full facial hair. I can barely grow anything. It was definitely intimidating, but once you get on the ice, the fear kind of went away and the adrenaline kind of kicked in.”

Before heading to South Bend campus, he was known for his offensive prowess. Sheahan led the St. Catharines Falcons in scoring after the 2008-09 season with 73 points in 40 games.

At Notre Dame, however, he not only had to adjust to a more defensive-minded style, but he also had to live on his own before he could even legally enter a casino.

His Irish-Catholic family highly values education, with both his parents being teachers. And Sheahan is grateful for the maturity he gained from college, although initially, it was tough for him to get used to the student-athlete grind.

“We were going from one place to another, first from working out to class, and then to the rink,” he said. “It was definitely intimidating, moving away from home for the first time, and just being a little smaller than the guys going in there.

“It was a lot of responsibility, and there was a lot of your shoulders. But I definitely think I matured as a person, so it was good.”

Sheahan’s offensive production fell during his freshman campaign, but he sharpened his skills as a responsible two-way player – even seeing some time on the blue line against Michigan.

“That was crazy,” he said. “I had some of the best players coming down on me full speed, and I think the first shift I got a penalty.”

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound center worked hard to keep up with the older players, gaining physical strength with Notre Dame’s off-ice strength training program. And the Wings’ staff has already noticed after just the first day of development camp.

“He looked terrific out there,” said Curt Fraser, the coach of the Wings’ Grand Rapids affiliate, who is running this week’s camp. “Big, strong skater, great shot, he’s got a lot of good tools.”

Sheahan knows that he has to refine his skills and together with his size blend them into an NHL-caliber player.

“I take pride in my size, and I like to use it to my advantage,” he said. “So I think it’ll help me, and hopefully help the organization in a few years.”

But first, he would like to prove that he can be a responsible player, which he plans to work on during his upcoming sophomore campaign.

“I really, really want to work on my offensive ability,” Sheahan said. “I just want to get that chance to bury the puck. I think there’s a few adjustments I need to do skating-wise, just from the stopping position and getting up to full speed, and the first few strides.”

He plans to keep developing for the next few seasons at Notre Dame before potentially heading to Detroit.

“I’m just going to be working every day,” Sheahan said. “Hopefully I’ll be here in two years, a year or two, and work my way up from the AHL.”

And why not? He’s already worked his way out of his parent’s driveway.

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