The Dubuque Fighting Saints' Shane Eiserman is taking this season to better harness an enviable set of tools.
The 18-year-old has shown that he has the size, at 6-foot-1½ and 200 pounds, and speed to make life rough for defenders. For Eiserman, who recently signed his NCAA letter of intent with the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, the team he pulled for throughout childhood, it's just a matter of trusting in his ability. The NHL Central Scouting Services ranks Eiserman as a B skater, suggesting he could go in the early rounds in June.
"Confidence with the puck, I feel I can work on that," says Eiserman, who has three goals and seven points through 13 games for Dubuque, the reigning USHL champion. "It takes experience. As games go along, just feeling more comfortable with the decisions I'm making so I can be ready next year when I go to college.
"I definitely feel I can play better, but it's early," the West Newbury, Mass., native adds. "Right now I need to get out of slump and play my game. Get back to the basics, what it took to get here, just the simple plays on the ice."
The U.S. under-18 team grad is fine-tuning his game with Dubuque this season before joining UNH. Saints coach Matt Shaw points out that on top of being a prototype power wing, Eiserman reads the ice very well and can get the puck to teammates in open space.
"His size and his skating and his aggressiveness are qualities that are hard to teach," says Shaw, a former New Jersey Devils assistant coach. "It comes very natural to him. The finer points of the game, that's where we're working with him to have some consistency and to use his tools and adapt.
"When he puts [the puck] on his hip and drives him [a defender] wide and, if he can't beat him wide, pulls up and delays, he's very, very effective," Shaw adds. "He has enough sense and vision to find lanes ... that is one thing where he's a bit under the radar, I talk to pro scouts all the time. I think that one thing that doesn't jump out at them is his ability to see the ice in tight little areas."
Eiserman began this season by helping Dubuque capture the bronze medal at the Junior Club World Cup in Russia and also helped Team USA win the recent World Junior A Challenge tourney in Nova Scotia. He's champing at the bit to join UNH. Growing up on Massachusetts' north shore, he set his sights on playing for the Wildcats from an early age and stuck by it, even though his dad Bill and later his brother William played for UMass-Lowell.
"Growing up, there was always a rivalry with my brothers [William and Christopher] when we played street hockey," Shane Eiserman says. "I wanted to be UNH and they wanted to be BC [Boston College]. I kind of wanted to go against them. I fell in love with that college and its program.
"From probably five years old that's where I wanted to go. My godmother [Christie Hill], for my Christmas present she used to always get me a UNH shirt and some tickets. When I signed [his NCAA letter of intent], she teared up a bit."
1. How do you describe your game to people who have yet to see you play?
"Definitely a power forward. Someone who takes a lot of pucks hard to the net. I try to model my game after a Jordan Staal-ish type of player. It was probably freshman year that I learned to use my size and strength."
2. Outside of immediate family, who is one person whom comes to mind when you think, "If not for this person, I might not be here?"
"My cousin, Eddie Hill, he's got a hockey clinic and helps me out there. With him, it's just the experience he has [having played for a decade in the AHL and ECHL]. He gives me pointers and I got off of that. It's great training with him."
3. If there was no hockey, what sport would you play?
"That's a tough question. I grew up playing baseball and football. If I didn't play hockey, I would love to paly football. That was definitely my second-favourite sport. I played middle linebacker and fullback."
4. What's your favourite Thanksgiving food?
"Stuffing, definitely stuffing with the gravy."
5. Favourite movie or TV show?
"Dumb and Dumber. I can't wait for the second one to come out."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.