FARIBAULT, Minn. (WCCO) — Steve “Rooster” Erickson is at home in his office sharpening skates.
He has sharpened the skates of Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Zach Parise, Jack Johnson, Eric Haula and Nathan MacKinnon. Why? Because they’ve all come through Shattuck – St. Mary’s in Faribault.
“I’m not a Wild fan, I’m not an Avs fan, I’m not a Pittsburg fan. I’m a Sid fan, a Jack fan, a Zach fan, Eric fan. I’m a fan of all the kids,” Erickson said.
So this Wild-Colorado series is special; three players have come from Shattuck, and they’re three players very proud to have made it.
“You learn a lot, you develop a lot down there,” said Zach Parise. “They produce a lot of good players and I think it speaks a lot not only for the series, but even around the league there’s a lot of guys that played there that are playing in the playoffs right now.”
Parise had what he has back at Shattuck, according to Coach Tom Ward.
“He’s got unbelievable fire, and it spreads. He’s a great leader that way because he just plays that way. He’ll go out and practice and he’ll turn it on a dime,” Ward said. “He can turn his eyeballs inside out and be Zach the hockey player.”
Eric Haula came from Finland to play at Shattuck, and went on to the Gophers and now the Wild.
“It’s a great place for a young player to go and develop your strengths and work on your skills and stuff, so, you know, I’m happy to be a part of that group,” Haula said.
Ward says Haula’s success is not surprise to the people that know him from Shattuck.
“We’re all happy as heck for him,” Ward said.
Nathan MacKinnon only played through junior high, but the school made an impression.
“Shattuck was a great experience for me. I have a lot of buddies that are still in Minnesota that I got to see the past couple days, and definitely it was a good experience,” McKennon said. “I was there for two years.”
Tom Ward never coached him directly because he was not on their varsity-equivalent team. But he remembers MacKinnon was a work in progress.
“He still had holes in his game … he still hadn’t learned to play 200 feet, he wasn’t super interested in playing defense. He liked to hang on to the puck a little bit too much,” Ward said. “And then he left to go play in Quebec in the Quebec Major Junior League and he got lucky to land in the spot where he got good coaching, and they kept pushing him to be a 200 foot player.”
MacKinnon came from the same small Canadian fishing village as another Shattuck alum – Sidney Crosby.
“I saw a boy who was 15 years old that acted like he was 30, in a great way. In a very humble, unassuming way,” Ward said. “But he knows his part.”
They’re still showing up at Shattuck. Future NHL Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur has had three sons play in the program. It’s where they come hoping to be great, and join the fraternity bonded by hockey.
“I’m sure for them down there that are watching, they’re proud, they’re proud of it,” Parise said. “Hopefully we’re representing them well.”
This is where dreams can be nourished, and when they are, and the stars align, here is something special that happens. But they never really leave their roots.
“That’s the buzz of the school. People love to talk about the kids, they love to follow them,” Ward said.