Throughout its storied history, the University of Denver has produced a plethora of excellent NHL-drafted players. The next one to likely join the group is freshman Nick Shore.
Nick Shore is the younger sibling of Pioneers sophomore standout Drew Shore (FLA). Like his older brother, the younger Shore is also a centerman that came to the University of Denver (DU) from the US National Team Development Program (USNTDP). The two were the first brothers to play simultaneously with the USNTDP.
Shore played two years with the USNTDP. In 2009-10, he posted 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) playing in all 56 games. In 2010, Shore helped guide Team USA to a gold medal at the IIHF World U-18 Championship in Belarus, co-leading the Americans with ten points.
During the recruiting process and in addition to the University of Denver, Shore had gotten interest from several other schools, most notably Boston University. He was also heavily pursued by the WHL (the Kelowna Rockets hold his WHL rights). But as Shore explains, there were several reasons why he chose to come to the University of Denver, not the least of which was the opportunity to play with his brother.
"That was a big part of my decision to come to DU. Everything that I had heard from him was pretty positive and having Drew here this year has just helped me that much more. I knew what to expect coming in because he had been through the whole process. So I’m pretty happy to have him here and it’s pretty special that we’re able to play together.
I got drafted by the Kelowna Rockets and I think they’re a great organization. It was always tempting to make the jump to the WHL, but I just weighed my options. I knew that DU was the right fit for me, both hockey-wise and academically. My family and I also felt that I would develop more being at DU. So I’m happy about my decision and it has definitely turned out to be a good fit for me."
At the University of Denver
To date, Shore has appeared in 25 games for the Pioneers, posting 16 points (five goals, 11 assists). Shore missed nine games due to a broken wrist that he suffered in Denver’s regular season opener at the University of Vermont. He posted his first two collegiate career points (a goal and an assist) back on Nov. 20 versus Bemidji State.
Shore’s most memorable game thus far came on Feb. 5 against archrival Colorado College. In that contest, he netted two goals, helping to guide the Pioneers to a 5-3 victory and retain the Gold Pan, a trophy that the two teams traditionally play for and is awarded to the team that wins the season series. The performance also earned Shore his lone WCHA Rookie of the Week honor on the season as well.
Since returning from his injury in mid-November, Shore has played much of the season with fellow freshman (and roommate) Beau Bennett (PIT) on the Pioneers’ second line.
"Playing with Beau has been great," said Shore. "Playing with someone of that caliber always works pretty well. I think Beau and I have developed some chemistry too. It probably helps too that we’re roommates, but out on the ice, we seem to be able to find each other so we’re able to feed off of each other that way. When we both got back healthy I think that was the first time that we had the opportunity to play together. Coach Gwozdecky had put us together and it just seemed to go from there."
"Well I think that one of Nick’s great attributes is his ability to share the puck and be able to distribute it to his linemates," added head coach George Gwozdecky. "He is very good at that. Beau knows where to get himself open and he’s got a great offensive instinct for finding open areas and open ice. That’s certainly an important suit when you’re playing with a guy like Nick, who is going to get you the puck. You need to be able to get yourself open to get it and be prepared to receive it. So they’ve played pretty well in their time together. I think that’s also part of the reason why they’ve developed some sort of chemistry."
Shore notes that playing for a legendary coach like George Gwozdecky has taught him many things, but perhaps the greatest lesson he has learned has been the importance of maintaining a high level of professionalism both on and off the ice.
"I learn so much from Coach Gwozdecky on a daily basis. He really preaches being consistent with everything and doing the right things both on and off the ice. We can’t take nights, periods or shifts off and things like that. I think that’s one thing that I’ve learned a lot about from him. I really enjoy playing here and I think a lot of it is due to Coach Gwozdecky."
"It’s easy coaching Nick," Gwozdecky said of coaching Shore. "He’s extremely intelligent. He is a guy that will listen and work at his game. You couldn’t ask for a better attitude or a guy who works any harder than Nick. It’s certainly a nice combination when you add in just his overall skill set. It’s a tremendous thing for our program to have."
Shore is a skillful, two-way forward that is blessed with tremendous hockey sense and great hands. He thinks the game remarkably well and possesses the ability to dictate the tempo of a game. His anticipation is very good and makes smart decisions both with and without the puck.
The young center’s hands coupled with his superb on-ice vision allow him to find open teammates and get very crisp tape-to-tape passes to them. Shore also possesses a good, active stick and does a good job of taking away lanes from opposing players.
He is strong in transition and is equally at home playing both offense and defense. Although he plays center for the University of Denver, Shore can also play on the wing. He uses his 6’0 200 pound frame quite advantageously, particularly in high traffic areas. He also brings passion and grit to his game, and doesn’t shy away from the physical side of it.
While Shore is known primarily as a playmaker, he also has very good finishing ability. Another of Shore’s greatest attributes is his terrific shot, but he could stand to shoot the puck more often. And it’s something Shore readily admits to.
"I keep harping on myself to try to shoot the puck a little bit more. I sort of have had a pass-first mentality, so I’d like to use my shot a little more because I think that’s one of my strengths. I’m working towards that, but I’ve always been a pass-first kind of guy."
Shore’s skating is also quite good. He skates with strong, smooth strides and has good balance. He is not lightning fast, but moves and accelerates very well. He also does a good job of consistently keeping his feet moving too.
One area where Shore has excelled throughout the season has been on face-offs. He has become one of the Pioneers’ best and most reliable players, winning 53 percent of his draws to date.
So how does Shore describe himself?
"I’d say that I’m a two-way center that is very reliable in the defensive zone and able to create offense in the offensive zone. I’m good on faceoffs as well. I think being able to play at both ends of the ice is a big part of it and developing both parts of my game is really important."
Shore lists Peter Forsberg, Sidney Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf among his favorite NHL players. And although he doesn’t pattern his style of play after any one player, Shore tries to integrate certain attributes from all of them into his game.
"I wouldn’t really say that I pattern myself after any certain player in the NHL. I like watching a lot of the great players in the NHL and taking bits and pieces from everyone’s game. If I had a favorite player, I would say that I’m pretty excited to see Peter Forsberg comes here. I also like watching Sidney Crosby because every single time that he’s on the ice, you can learn something from what he does. He just does things tremendously well. He’s definitely one of my favorite players to watch and to learn something from. Ryan Getzlaf is another one that I like watching a lot because of the way he plays. He has sort of a pass-first mentality and just the way he conducts himself on the ice. I see parts of their games that I try to work in and learn from."
Shore is ranked 38th on Central Scouting’s Mid-term Ranking and is the highest ranked WCHA player that is eligible for the upcoming June Draft. He is projected to go early in the second round.