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Colorado Thunderbirds 16U Have No Shortage of Star Mentors

By Michael Hicks - Special to USAHockey.com, 03/16/16, 1:30PM MDT

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Forward Baker Shore’s brothers are in the NHL, and former NHLer Adam Foote is an assistant coach.

​WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- Baker Shore doesn’t have to look far to see what hard work and a pedigree for hockey success can do for a player. All he has to do is look at his older brothers to see that.

The 15-year-old Kent Denver School sophomore and forward for the 16U Colorado Thunderbirds has some pretty good company to hang with at the rink, considering he has two older brothers playing in the NHL — Drew for the Calgary Flames, and Nick for the Los Angeles Kings. Another brother, Quentin, plays collegiately for the University of Denver.

“It definitely motivates me just being able to practice with them and train with them in the summer and everything,” Shore said. “We’re all pretty competitive.”

And as if that’s not enough, then consider that one of the Thunderbirds’ assistant coaches is former longtime Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote, whose son Nolan is a forward for the team. Having that kind of presence on the sideline can only make a team that much better, Shore explained.

“I think it does a lot, especially with just having Foote and [Joe] Sakic and a couple of those guys helping out with the organization,” Shore said. “To see those guys and growing up watching them, it really motivates you.”

Yet, despite his family presence in hockey’s upper ranks, Shore isn’t so sure what his down-the-road future holds. What he is certain of is that the near future is centered on San Jose, California, and the Toyota-USA Hockey Tier I 16U National Championships in the coming weeks.

Under the guidance of coach Angelo Ricci, the Thunderbirds focused on the task at hand, which is winning a national championship. They’ll have that shot again in 2016 following a 4-0 run at the Rocky Mountain District Championships this past weekend at the Ice Centre at the Promenade.

Colorado outscored the opposition 28-2 in four games, including a 7-1 win over the Dallas Stars Elite in the championship game.

“I think we really came together as a team,” said forward Bryan Lockner, who scored one of his two goals in the tournament during a 12-0 rout of the West Coast Renegades in the first round. “We understood what it takes to get to nationals. We didn’t take Phoenix or Dallas lightly. We were just going at it hard.”

Michael Muchitiello led the charge by scoring a team-high five goals in the four games — four of those coming against the Renegades. In all, the Thunderbirds had 14 different goal scorers and 17 different point scorers in the three days.

There’s no question that the team is loaded with talent, but it’s the teaching of Ricci, Foote and others — not to mention Shore’s brothers — that shape the Thunderbirds into who they are and how they play.

“I kind of say the biggest thing [they teach] is the little things. They kind of get the point across, the little things that matter, and they’re fantastic at teaching you those,” Shore said. “After a while they all add up.”

That outlines the pedigree of the team, but what defines it?

“I think just hard work, a lot of depth with our team,” defender Colby Bukes said. “We have three solid lines. That really put us in the spot where we are now.”

That spot is back at nationals a year after the Thunderbirds lost 2-1 in the semifinals to Honeybaked (Mich.) in triple overtime.

“We all thought we should’ve beat that team. There was a bad bounce and stuff,” Bukes said. “We battled hard and we’re doing that again now, and we’ll keep battling.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.


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