Frozen Fenway: Playing outdoors came easy for Devin Shore

Maine sophomore forward Devin Shore wins a draw against Boston University forward Danny O'Regan. - Matt Dewkett (mrd-photos.com)

Devin Shore grew up playing outdoor hockey in his backyard at 'Shore Gardens.'

Boston, Mass. -- Whether it's inside at a conventional rink or outside on the frozen tundra of Fenway Park, Devin Shore sure can play hockey. There might not be a better all-around hockey player in the country than the Maine sophomore and Dallas Stars draft pick.

Playing outside was nothing new to Shore, a kid who grew up with a backyard rink of his own in a town about a half-hour northeast of Toronto on Lake Ontario.

"I was fortunate enough that my dad and I built a rink in our backyard every winter. My mom is kind of artsy so she wrote 'Shore Gardens' on the end boards. That was our playground for a lot of winters so I have a lot of fond memories playing outdoor hockey. This is really special for me."

Shore headed into the Frozen Fenway game knowing that the stage would be a little bigger than his backyard, but wanting to soak in the once in a lifetime experience.

"It's pretty cool. Everyone has an extra jump because everyone is so excited," said Shore after the team's practice the day before the game. "It's a little more serious, but at the same time when the game gets so intense, I hope it's a good thing to say 'It's just like the backdoor rink. Just have fun. You're playing the game you love,'" added Shore.

Despite being a big Toronto Blue Jays fan, Shore still appreciated the opportunity to play a hockey game at one of the most historic baseball parks in the world.

"I'm at a loss for words. When we walked out there, you kind of take a peek back. It means even more that they just won the World Series. Sitting in the dugout waiting for the game and you're like 'David Ortiz sat right here.' We picked up the telephone and called in the relievers and stuff like that. It was a lot of fun and it means way more that we won the game," said Shore.

The Ajax, Ontario native had two goals and an assist on Saturday afternoon in Maine's 7-3 victory over Boston University at Fenway Park. Shore now has 11 goals and 10 assists in his last 11 games in which he has scored at least a point in each.

Shore was the team's leading scorer with six goals and 20 assists last season as a freshman, but he has elevated his game to a whole new level this season under new head coach Red Gendron.

"It's confidence," said Shore when asked about what has helped him be more successful this season. "I worked hard in the summer to develop physically."

It hasn't just been Shore who has picked up his game from last season to this. The Black Bears won their 11th game on Saturday, matching last season's win total.

"Our intensity," said Shore. "It starts in practice. We've found our identity as a team wanting to out work and out skate our opponents. If you can out skate and win more battles than them there is a good chance you win a hockey game. It has spread from our practice habits. We're just trying to be as intense as possible in the games,"

Beyond his skills on the ice, Shore is a terrific student who earned a 4.0 GPA as a freshman and was named the Hockey East Top Scholar Athlete.

One of the most well-spoken student-athletes one will encounter, Shore impressed his teammates with his leadership ability and intangibles so much that he was named an assistant captain as a sophomore.

"I've tried to take more of a leadership role on the bench. It doesn't just mean points. Sometimes it means showing the team how to get going. It could be face-offs, strong defensive zone play, anyway you can help the team is what we're trying to do."

"It means so much to [wear the A]. We had a team vote so it means a lot coming from my teammates. It couldn't mean more coming from anyone else. I'm just trying to do them proud," said Shore.

"Devin is a great leader," said teammate and Vancouver Canucks prospect Ben Hutton.

The whole Maine team, including Shore, has really taken a business-like approach to hockey throughout this season. Taking it one game at a time, the Black Bears get back to action next weekend with another road trip to the Boston area to face UMass Lowell and Boston College.

Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.

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