Northern Star: Hunter Shepard
For this week's Northern Star, we hear from the senior goalie and co-captain of the UMD men's hockey team.
DULUTH, Minn. – To say that UMD’s Hunter Shepard is a very competitive person would be an understatement.
“That’s probably what I’ve made my career off of to this point. I think guys want to play in front of a guy that battles back there and the most important thing is winning. It’s not personal stats or shut-outs. Winning games is the most important thing,” Shepard said.
To his coaches and teammates, the Cohasset native has been the rock that has helped the Bulldogs win back-to-back national titles.
“I’m never worried. If there on a two-on-one or a three-on-one, I’m not like ‘Oh no. Let’s pick the puck to the net.’ Shep is going to make the save,” said forward Tanner Laderoute.
“I think it’s a testament to him, his work habits and mentality. I think we’ve all seen why just by the way he’s played and it makes it pretty easy as a coach,” head coach Scott Sandelin said.
And with the recent success of UMD goalies, it’s no longer a secret who the x-factor is on the Bulldogs’ coaching staff as volunteer goalies coach Brant Nicklin has been instrumental in Shepard’s development.
“In practice, guys might move the puck laterally on him. On some days in some situations, you might just let it go in. But that’s usually not the case with him. We might do some games or different things like that throughout the week and he’s always right in there, being as competitive as ever to make sure that he wins,” said Nicklin.
“In my freshman year when I wasn’t playing and wasn’t going on road trip at times, I think that time with him was pretty vital to making the step I did my sophomore year when I had the chance to be in the net more,” Shepard said.
“To get somebody that has played that position, that knows the mentality, that works with those guys, that can communicate with those guys in their language is huge,” said Sandelin.
Saturday night, Shepard started in his 105th consecutive game, breaking the NCAA Division I record set by Ben Scrivens back in 2010.
“It’s well-deserved. He worked so hard for two, three, four years to get to this point and to have him in the record books for that, it’s a huge accomplishment and I’m happy for the guy,” said defenseman Nick Wolff.
“If there was a reason that I really couldn’t be out there, that’s one thing. But I want to be out there for my teammates and do whatever I can to help the team win and being out there is part of that,” Shepard said.
And as the Grand Rapids alum gets set for his final run with the team, he says he is glad he made the decision to come back to UMD for his senior campaign.
“It’s almost somewhat of a fishing reference. You don’t leave fish to find fish. Regardless of what happens and how the rest of the season goes, I don’t have any regrets on coming back,” said Shepard.