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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2 Minutes in the box with Shane Prince

Native New Yorker Shane Prince is a hot commodity these days.

He's near the top of the OHL scoring race playing on a potent line with Ryan Martindale and Tyler Toffoli of the Ottawa 67's.

Although diminutive in size (listed at about 5-10), he's got excellent skills and a big heart.

I caught up with Prince last week for a feature that will run in the February edition of the New York Hockey Journal, and was impressed with the polish and depth of thought he put into his answers.

His latest reward is to play in the CHL Top Prospects Game as an injury replacement, but his spot is well-earned.

Without further ado, here's the Q & A:

Bruins2011DraftWatch: How has the season gone for you so far?

Shane Prince: It's definitely been great so far. It's great to start the year strong and keep the wins going. The team's going great and I've enjoyed my best year in the OHL individually, so things are moving along in the right direction. I just want to do what I can to help the team keep it going.

B2011DW: Has that line of yours been a key to Ottawa's strong start this season?

SP: Actually, we didn't start out the season together. We were all on different lines to start the season and things weren't really clicking right away. So, our coach (Chris Byrne) juggled the lines a bit looking for the right fit. I think the third time or so he did it, I ended up on the line with Tyler and Ryan and things just took off from there. Over the last 25 games or so, we really took off, and what I like about the line is that I feel like we bring the best of everything. I'm more of a playmaker and a grinder that the line needs; Tyler more of the finisher who gets the goals, and Ryan is a well-rounded player, whether it's playmaking or scoring.

B2011DW: Can you talk a little bit about what it is you think has been the biggest factor in your success this season?

SP: Definitely. Well, I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates and coaches; we're a solid, balanced group and I think that has a lot to do with it. Another thing is the preparation and work I did over the summer. I have a great trainer in my hometown of Spencerport (N.Y.)-- Rick Billitier-- who is a role model for me. He's been my trainer for a few years now and I give him a lot of credit for working me really hard and that's important for a guy like me who doesn't have a lot of natural size. He doesn't let me get away with taking shortcuts, and we just had a really productive summer of building my strength and conditioning, and it's paid off. I did some on-ice work on my skating as well, and it all just came together for me.

B2011DW: Where did you play your minor hockey? In Rochester?

SP: Actually, no. I played for the Syracuse Stars.

B2011DW: Syracuse? That's not exactly around the corner from Spencerport, is it?

SP: (Laughs) No, no it's not. It was an excellent program and so a group of us from Spencerport would carpool to the practices. It was about an hour-and-a-half trip one-way, two to three times a week for practices, not including our travel/game schedule.

B2011DW: That sounds like quite a sacrifice...

SP: It was, but that kind of commitment is just something that I've always tried to bring to hockey. A lot of times, it meant going straight from school to the car and doing homework on the ride down, practicing and then home for bed. My parents are the ones who gave up a lot to help me pursue my hockey dreams; a lot of miles on the car and time spent in different rinks, and so I owe them a ton for what they've done for me to help get me where I am.

B2011DW: You opted for the OHL over the NCAA route. Can you talk about what went into the decision?'

SP: After I was drafted by Kitchener I knew that going to the OHL was what I wanted to do. It was definitely a family decision, though. Moving away from home at 15 was tough on everyone, but they knew how hard I worked to get to the point of being drafted by an OHL team. They knew that the NHL was my ultimate goal, so it made a lot of sense to go the OHL route even though it meant leaving home at a pretty young age. No regrets-- things have turned out great for me.

B2011DW: Kitchener traded you about a year ago. Any hard feelings about what happened there with the Rangers?

SP: Definitely not. My experience with Kitchener and Coach (and GM) Steve Spott was definitely positive to say the least. I have a lot of respect for that organization for showing confidence in me and drafting me, and then giving me a chance to play in the OHL. They taught me a lot, I had some great teammates and all in all, it was a great experience for me to play there.

B2011DW: Let's look ahead to the 2011 NHL Draft. You said the NHL is your ultimate goal; even though your focus is on your current season 67's, are you excited about what lies ahead come June? That first real step to a possible pro hockey career?

SP: Obviously, the team comes first in any situation, but tis is the year that any hockey player looks forward to-- his draft year. Right now, it's working out as well as any player could dream for. I'm looking forward to going out to Minnesota with my family and taking it in and just sharing the experience. But, my focus is definitely in Ottawa right now, with my team and trying to win an OHL championship and Memorial Cup. Everything else will have to wait.

B2011DW: Buffalo Sabres fan growing up?

SP: Definitely a Sabres fan. Oh, yeah. Watched them all time; still remember when they went to the Stanley Cup, Brett Hull's skate in the crease, all of that. Daniel Briere was my favorite player when he was in Buffalo. A lot of good memories of watching the Sabres as a kid and it would definitely be a dream come true if they picked me.

Seems like a great stopping point place to wrap up the interview, and Prince and I talked about other things. For that, you'll have to get your hands on a copy of next month's NY Hockey Journal.

Prince is going places, and even though he's hovering around the 30's in the various Central and TSN mid-season rankings, don't be surprised to see him push his way into the top-30 come June.

Video courtesy 67s TV:

1 comment:

  1. Want another great article on Prince google "Prince skating to be king of 2011 NHL draft" and it will come up...