“The University of Maine is an incredible place to play, especially when you are talking college hockey, the fans, and the player experience,” Shore said. “But it’s been my dream my entire life to play professional hockey and to have that opportunity, it was hard to pass up. I believed I was ready to step in and thought it was best for my development to go pro.”
So, just after concluding his junior season at Maine in early March, Shore signed an entry-level contract with Dallas, and then joined the Texas Stars on an amateur tryout contract to get a head start on his pro career.
So far, so good.
“I’m having a blast,” Shore said of his first seven weeks in the American Hockey League.
And he’s making an impression in Cedar Park.
“Love him,” Texas coach Derek Laxdal said. “He’s a player. He’s a player.”
Shore didn’t just dip his toe into the water when he arrived in the AHL. He played in all 19 games after his arrival, registering four goals and two assists to help Texas secure a spot in the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs. He eventually settled into the third-line center position, a spot once held by Radek Faksa whose season ended in January due to shoulder surgery.
“Devin has been great. He’s got a passion for the game,” said Scott White, Dallas Stars Director of Hockey Operations and Texas Stars GM. “With Radek Faksa’s injury, Devin has stepped into that third-line slot right now, getting penalty killing time right away. And that just shows you what kind of player he is. He’s got tons of upside.”
Shore, a left-shot center who is listed at 6-1, 205 pounds, has logged ample five-on-five time with Texas, and he’s seen some time on the power play as well. Shore’s a good two-way player, responsible in his own end and able to chip in offensively.
“He skates well. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. He is physical,” said Laxdal. “He reads the game really well; that’s part of the hockey IQ. I’m a big believer if you can’t think the game it is hard to play it. … He comes to the rink and he’s got passion. He’s smiling all the time. He’s real pleasant to be around, and he is a great teammate. I think he is going to be a special player.”
Dallas selected Shore in the second round (61st overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft. The 20-year-old Ontario native spent three years at the University of Maine, tallying 104 points (34 goals, 70 assists) in 112 games. He never missed a game during his three-year career and led the Black Bears in scoring all three seasons he was there.
This past season, Shore registered 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 39 games. He got off to a slow start but registered 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) in his final 23 games.
“It had its ups and downs,” Shore said of the season. “The second half was much better than the first, which is good. You obviously want to have a great year all the way through, but sometimes that doesn’t happen, and you want to finish strong. As the season went along, I felt great and I was playing some of the best hockey of my career the second half of this season.”
Shore was the captain of the team this season; a good learning experience as the Black Bears had a roller coaster ride of a season.
“It was a great challenge being captain,” Shore said. “It was a little added weight and added pressure. There’s always going to be pressure and dealing with that was good.”
Choosing the college route for his development worked out well for Shore. A late bloomer physically, he was able add some weight and get stronger over the three years. The fewer games in the college schedule allows for more time in the gym. And the college game was good preparation for the AHL.
“To be able to put on that added extra muscle physically was great,” he said. “And as an 18-year-old to play against 24, 25-year-olds, that’s what I am going through now, guys that are heavier and stronger on the puck. I think the speed of college hockey prepared me for the speed here. Just the experience of playing at the University of Maine was incredible. I can’t say enough about that arena up there – the Alfond Arena – is an incredible place to play.”
Shore, who earned several academic honors at Maine, majored in finance and plans on earning his degree. For now, though, the focus is on hockey and adjusting to being a pro. Shore’s three-year entry-level contract will kick in next season and the time with the Texas Stars is giving him a solid head start on 2015-16, which will be his first full professional season.
“I love it here. The first thing I noticed is how nice the rink is. The weather is unbelievable. All the people here are great,” Shore said. “The time I spend here I just wanted to be a sponge. I wanted to soak in everything I possibly could and take in as much information and learn as much as I could because that will do nothing but pay off at camp next season. And it’s an opportunity to play more hockey. It’s fun to play games. If I get a chance to play more hockey, it’s a good experience.”
Notes: Texas plays Game 3 Wednesday
*The Texas Stars will be back in action Wednesday, playing at Rockford in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Rockford leads the best-of-five series 2-0. Games 4 and 5 – if necessary – will be played at Rockford as well.
*The Idaho Steelheads season is over. Dallas’ ECHL affiliate was eliminated in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, falling in six games to Utah.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.