By Kirk Luedeke
TORONTO -- For Ottawa 67’s winger Shane Prince, the sacrifices are starting to pay off.
The Spencerport, N.Y., native left the Rochester area at age 15 to play in the OHL, where he was originally drafted by the Kitchener Rangers (who traded him to Ottawa in Jan. 2010). Getting out of his comfort zone to challenge himself in North America’s elite amateur hockey circuit has set Prince up as a notable prospect for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
“I think it was a great experience, obviously,” Prince said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. It’s an honor to be here with all these great players. I think my interview process went really well and today I think the physical testing went well.”
Prince’s OHL season left a bitter taste in his mouth. After going into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed, the heavily favored 67’s were swept at the hands of the Sudbury Wolves in the opening round. Prince was limited to three games, scoring one goal.
“It was obviously very disappointing to have the season end like that,” Prince told New England Hockey Journal. “We needed to play playoff hockey to advance and we just didn’t play playoff hockey. There’s not much else you can say about it -- we didn’t get it done.”
Since returning home this spring, Prince has put in a lot of work in the weight room to build his core strength and raise his fitness levels in preparation for the combine. The effort paid dividends for him, as he finished in the top 10 in several different categories after the first day of fitness training was in the books.
“I think I was very well prepared,” Prince said. “I worked hard in the gym leading up to this and I think it’s pretty much what I expected to do here, and I think (the staff) did a good job.”
At about 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Prince is a player who has to continue to get stronger prior to making the jump to the pro ranks. He missed time to shoulder injuries and a concussion this season, but is back at 100 percent and looking forward to the next challenge.
“I definitely work extremely hard in the offseason and I think I did a good job putting on some weight on and bulking up,” he said. “I think you can always get stronger -- you’re never strong enough and you tend to lose a little bit during the season, so when the off-season comes I like to go really hard in the gym and get that back.”
Prince’s dedicated resistance training set him up well for the weights portion of the testing, but the 18-year-old admitted that the Wingate and VO2 Max portions presented more of a significant obstacle for him.
“I think obviously the bike tests were the hardest ones,” he said. “They set it up in a difficult way -- they had you burning out on pushups before you went to the bench, which I think was pretty difficult to put up a lot more reps than what I did back home on the bench without doing the pushups. Everybody has to do the same thing, so I think it was good.”
With his 25 goals and 88 points, the 26th-ranked North American skater on Central’s final list is pleased with the way things went from an individual standpoint and hopes he did enough to earn a first-round draft grade on the June 24.
“I think I did good,” he said. “I don’t like to set goals for myself before the season but I just like to go out and do the best I can every night and every practice.”
Prince did that by establishing career highs in goals and points in the OHL in this, his most important season to date. He’s done everything he possibly can to make his case as an NHL prospect, and so now he will wait to see which jersey he puts on in St. Paul.
Kirk Luedeke can be reached at email@example.com.