After a one-year absence, the ever-increasingly quantitative and qualitative contingent of Shattuck-St. Mary’s hockey alumni is guaranteed a spot in the Stanley Cup finals for the sixth time in the post-NHL lockout era.
Captain Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils will tangle with Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers for the Eastern Conference title along with the right to become the seventh SSM player to play in a Cup final.
Shattuck alumni who have previously seen action at the NHL’s final frontier are Edmonton’s Ty Conklin in 2006; Ottawa’s Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves in 2007; Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Ryan Malone and Conklin in 2008; Crosby, Malone and Conklin (with Detroit) again in 2009; and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews in 2010.
Parise is eight wins away from becoming the third former “Shad” to take the Cup directly from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in the last four years. Crosby and Toews previously had the privilege in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Either way, the two SSM graduates still standing in the Stanley Cup bracket are both looking to add to a trophy case that includes at least one USA Hockey national championship and a World Junior gold medal.
In his first of two seasons on the Faribault, Minn., prep school’s top-level team, Parise charged up 69 goals and 162 points in 58 games en route to the 2001 national championship. It was the school’s second crown and the first under second-year head coach Tom Ward.
Parise graduated in 2002 with an accolade as the school’s best male athlete and moved on to the University of North Dakota. Within two years, he was a budding Devils prospect and a key figure on Team USA’s World Junior Championship squad that upset Crosby’s Canadians, 4-3, in 2004 final.
Stepan likewise spent two years under Ward’s tutelage in 2006-07 and 2007-08, co-piloting Shattuck’s first successful bid for back-to-back national titles. The Hastings (Minn.) High School transfer amassed 82 goals and 181 points in 123 prep career games.
He would then follow Parise’s act of helping the Americans to a WJC title within 19 months of graduation. A little more than nine months later in October 2010, Stepan debuted with the Blueshirts.
Both parties are now raring to commence their first NHL conference final, each looking to grab and add heat to the SSM torch.
And the school’s ties to the series stretch beyond the active alumni. Stepan’s cousin, Zach, teamed up with Anthony Brodeur, the eldest son of Devils’ goaltender Martin Brodeur, to deliver Shattuck’s latest national championship last month.
The younger Stepan is committed to Ohio State for the 2012-13 season and ranked No. 53 among North American skaters by the Central Scouting Service for this year’s NHL entry draft. The younger Brodeur will be draft eligible in 2013, quite possibly coinciding with or occurring within a year of his father’s retirement.