Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Top 5 Tuesday: Sabres at the Olympic Games

No not Buffalo Sabres, but Shattuck-St. Mary's Sabres. You know the Faribault, Minnesota prep school hockey factory. The school has been around in some capacity since 1858 but became known for hockey during the early 90's, and ever since has been producing top notch players. There are currently 5 men's Olympic hockey players and 2 women's players who attended and played for the Sabres. Tonight we'll speak with the schools Director of Hockey Tom Ward to find out why they've been so successful. For now here's a look at the Sabre Alumni playing in the Olympics.

5. Ryan Malone:1997-1998
Malone spent just one year as a Sabre but made a big impression scoring 41 goals and adding 44 assists in just 50 games. His robust style of play was being shaped early as he also had 69 penalty minutes. Malone's time at Shattuck-St. Marry's paved the way for him to play in the USHL, then St. Cloud State before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He helped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup Final berth before being traded to Tampa Bay in the summer of 2008.

4. Jack Johnson:2002-2003
Johnson suited up for the Sabres just 7 years ago, paving the way for an impressive career so far with team USA. Johnson displayed his offensive tools from the blueline even in prep school with 15 goals and 27 assists for 42 points. He then joined the U.S. national development team for 2 years, attended Michigan for a pair of seasons before his NHL rights were traded from Carolina to Los Angeles. Johnson has suited up twice for his country at the senior World Championship and by beating Canada at the Olympics Sunday likely help erase the memories of losing in an epic shoot out during the 2006 World Junior Championship. In the 2007 tournament Johnson was public enemy number one among Canadian fans in Vancouver for what was thought to be an elbow to Canadian forward Steve Downie. I've since spoken to members of team Canada who called it a 'phantom elbow.' Johnson was the only men's hockey player to march in the 2010 Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver

3. Zach Parise:2000-2002
Unlike Malone and Johnson, Parise wasn't in and out at the prep school, he spent 4 years in Faribault at the school his father J.P. had a huge hand in developing. In his final two seasons with the Sabres Parise lit up goaltenders with 69 and 77 goals per season, while adding 93 and 101 assist campaigns. An astonishing 340 points in just 125 games. Parise left for UND and was drafted by New Jersey, where he's proven with a 45 goal season last year that his production at Shattuck was no fluke. Parise has stayed in close contact with his former coach Tom Ward and routinely checks in on his old school.

2. Jonathan Toews:2004-2005
One season was enough seasoning for Jonathan Toews and even though the campas was an 8 hour plus drive from his home in Winnipeg, crossing the border to watch their son play would soon become a trend for the Toews family. The first of 2 Canadians on our list, Toews put up 48 goals and 62 assists in 64 games for the Sabres before joining the UND Fighting Sioux. He was drafted first overall in the WHL bantam draft by Tri City, and according to some hockey people was going to play for the Americans, until switching agents. Toews has never mentioned this, saying all along he was committed to the Fighting Sioux.

1. Sidney Crosby:2002-2003
Get ready to be shocked with this one. Sidney Crosby had a pretty terrific year with the Sabres. That is if 72 goals, 90 assists for 162 points in 57 games is good in your book. Only his 168 point season with Rimouski since then has been a higher total. Crosby might be the poster boy for Shattuck, as his name is their biggest recruiting tool. His time with the Sabres was capped off with a US national championship.

Note: Monique and Jocelyn Lamoureux, both Shattuck St. Mary's graduates, are also playing hockey for Team USA on the women's side.

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