Exclusive: Nick Shore on Team USA WJC camp experience

Nick Shore – LA Kings prospect
(photo by Cikiri)

Like it has been for some of you, summer has been filled with plenty of camping for many of the Los Angeles Kings top prospects.

First, there was the Kings Development Camp in early July. Then, a few of the elite were selected to attend evaluation camps for various countries preparing to participate in this winter’s World Junior Championship.

Last week, Tyler Toffoli checked in from Team Canada’s camp. And over the last few days, we heard from Kevin Gravel and Michael Mersch.

Next up is Nick Shore, a college player (University of Denver Pioneers) selected by LA in the third round of this year’s draft.

Last summer, he was invited by Team USA to their summer camp as well. However, he didn’t make the team that went on to the tournament this past January.

He arrived back home in Colorado yesterday and shared the following thoughts on his second go around at evaluation camp…

– Overall impression: “I thought I had a really good camp. Obviously, it was my second year there, so I felt a little more comfortable and more prepared. In the games that I played, I think I played pretty well too. So, now I’m focused on having a big first half to the season and hopefully I’ll get invited to the (selection) camp in December.”

– Changes to the structure of camp: “Last year, there wasn’t necessarily workouts, but it was definitely a much more rigorous warm-up and cool down. We didn’t have as much of that this year, so I think it made it a little bit easier.”

– On his interactions with the coaches: “The way it worked was coach Dean Blais wasn’t around as much during the first part of camp. We had our own coaches and stuff like that (note: the group of 40+ campers was split into two groups for the first few days, team blue and team white). So, we didn’t interact much. But, yeah, some of the coaches were pretty funny and they were fun to be around.”

– On Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, who helped out during the early part of camp: “Any time there is an NHL coach there, you have to listen to everything he has to say. The main thing with him was the way he approached the game. He did everything in a very professional manner and I think even though this was a camp in the middle of summer, he was still very professional in all aspects. I think that really transferred over to my game and the rest of guys in camp.”

– On some players saying the chirping was ‘world class’ during the first few days of camp: “Well, I can’t repeat most of those things that were being said back and forth. It was definitely pretty intense though. There were a bunch of guys trying to make the team, so it almost felt like a playoff atmosphere, rather than a summer camp.”

– Memories from the fist game, a 4-3 win on Saturday night: “I scored in that game (on the power-play). I was coming across the net and I actually hit a high tip. The defenseman made a good play and I was lucky enough to bang it in. If you’re not lucky enough to get one the first game, I don’t think you worry about it because it’s a long camp. But, getting one in the first game, I think it – not took the pressure off, but – made it a little easier. I (felt like) it got things going again for me because I probably hadn’t played a game in three or four months. So, it definitely felt good to put one in right off the bat.”

[note: I guess that last statement supports his previous claims of the intensity in camp. The early match-ups were really nothing more than scrimmages between the blue and white teams. However, by saying he hadn’t played a game in three or four months, it puts those black/white scrimmages at Dev Camp in LA into the proper perspective. It’s not a knock on the Kings Dev Camp, it just speaks to the differences in ‘scrimmages’ played at the two camps.]

– On memories from Sunday’s game: “None specifically. I played a lot of hockey while I was there and like the other games, it was pretty competitive. All three scrimmages were probably just as competitive as the (international) games because everyone was trying to make the same team.”

– On the final split-squad game, played Monday (his group played Team Sweden): “I thought Monday’s game was my strongest game. I probably played the most minutes in that game, so it was pretty easy to get my legs going. Plus, after having already played a few games, I think that’s where I really started to feel comfortable and thought I played my best hockey.”

– On Monday night, knowing roster cuts were coming in the morning: “A lot of guys just put up a tough exterior. Everybody was just carrying on and hanging out. Nobody really brought up who they thought was going to get cut or anything. After being cut the year before, it’s definitely something I didn’t want to go through again. It’s not a good feeling. So, I was really relieved the next day (when I made it).”

– On comments from coach Blais after Wednesday’s game, ‘Shore is a pretty smart player and good on faceoffs, good penalty killer.’: “Everyone has an individual meeting with some of the staff, including coach, and they kind of tell you their expectations. I think, pretty much, those three things are what he wanted me to focus on. He wanted me to win all my face-offs and use my hockey sense to create offense. But, also, he wanted me to be a good penalty killer. He’s really big into guys playing their roles and thinks that’s one of the reasons he was able to be successful two years ago (when USA won gold). So, I think that’s something he’s really trying to carry over to this team.”

– On the fact he was scratched from Thursday’s game, after two solid games on Monday and Wednesday: “At a camp like this, it’s not like being scratched during the regular season. They’re trying to get a look at so many different match-ups. During one of the games I was sitting out with a bunch of the guys who were on the team last year. So, I don’t think that means anything good or bad. I think they’re just trying to test different line combinations. So, you don’t really look too much into that as a player.”

– On then being scratched again for Saturday’s final game: “It was a bit frustrating. I thought I was going to play in that game. And, obviously, it would have been nice to give the coaches one more impression. But, it is what it is. I think the main thing, like with my brother (Drew) last year. You have to have a good start to the season. That’s where they start evaluating again. Summer camp is one thing, but I want to be invited to the next camp.”

– On fellow Kings prospect, Kevin Gravel: “I actually knew him from playing against him last season too, when he was at St Cloud State. He’s a very good player. He’s big and has a long reach. I think he uses his tick pretty well.”

– On fellow Kings prospect (and linemate at Kings Dev Camp), Michael Mersch: “Mersch, same thing. I played with him at the U.S. development program, but I think throughout last season he took his game to a whole new level. It’s nothing against him at the program, but I definitely think he surprised a lot of people with how well he played in college this year.

– On what makes Derek Forbort so good, besides the fact he’s such a big kid: “I think the main thing is about him is just his hockey sense. He reads the play pretty well and he always makes a good pass. He never tries to play outside his role, stuff like that.”

– On Christopher Gibson, a fellow Kings prospect, who was in Lake Placid for the camp, representing Team Finland during the international games: “We didn’t really cross paths. The way the do it is they keep it pretty locked down. They try to make it like two separate, distinct teams the first few days (the blue and white USA teams). Some of my best buddies were even on the other team, but we didn’t even really get to interact that much. I think they do that so there’s more of a competitive level among the guys in the camp.”

– On Seth Jones, the 16 year old phenom (6-foot-3, 200 lbs and son of the NBA’s Popeye Jones) who was invited to camp: “I was really impressed with him, being that young and playing against such older kids, he’s, obviously, pretty far ahead of the other guys in his age group. But, I think his main thing is just how steady he is. He’s a good skater and he definitely didn’t look out of place.”

– Playing GM for a second, what if they let him make a trade between the blue and white teams, who would he trade? “I probably would have traded (Justin) Faulk just because he was one of my best friends there and it would have fun to tell him that I traded him. In return, I would have needed another one of my buddies. So, I probably would have asked for Jon Merrill.”

– Back to his game, what was the best skill he showed off in camp: “My best would probably be my ability to be successful on the penalty kill. They changed the penalty kill line-ups pretty often. Yet, when I was given that role, I think I really showed well and I think that’s really an underrated part of my game. Most people don’t see me specifically as a penalty killer. But, I think I did that well.”

– What would he change if he could? “I probably would have scored a couple more goals in the game vs. Sweden because our team could have used them.”

– Plans for the rest of summer: “I think I might take three or four days off and go to the mountains. You pretty much prepare for (the USA) camp for a long time and it’s a lot of hockey in a short amount of time in the summer. So, I might take three of days off to rejuvenate and then it’s back to working out and skating to get ready for the year.”

– On the thought of playing against his younger brother, Quinton, during the second game of the upcoming season: “I’m really excited about it. My brother Drew and I were just talking about that earlier today with him. We’re looking forward to it and I think everyone in our family is pretty excited. It’s going to be funny, but it’s going to be a good game too. We also have a fourth brother, Baker, he’s 11. He’s probably going to be the best one. We were joking recently, with how many times we’ve gone out and gone skating with him, he better the best!”

Shore and the Pioneers travel to St Cloud to play Gravel in December. Then, they host Forbort and the University of North Dakota in February. So, Shore says he’ll come by MayorsManor again to talk about taking on his fellow Kings prospects later this season.

For now, it’s relaxation and then back to the rink. Nobody likes to be shown up by their little brother.

Head up Quinton!

The Mayor


Guest Author: Kevin Gravel on his experience at USA eval camp

Exclusive – Kings prospect Michael Mersch on his Team USA eval camp experience

LA Kings Draft Update: Round Three – center Nick Shore

Wisconsin coach on LA Kings prospects Shore, Forbort and Gravel

NCAA coach Gary Shuchuk on Kings draft pick Michael Mersch

Nieto, Charlie Coyle – Team USA eval camp, summer 2010

All three Kings prospects earn medals at 2011 World Junior Championship

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