Brett Shute is off to his best start with the Amherst Ramblers in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League.
The Harbour Grace native has registered 14 points (11 goals and three assists) in 13 games with the club this season.
It is a sign that Shute’s confidence and comfort level in the league is growing.
“I’m getting more confident,” he told The Compass.
Shute has seen his role expand this season.
He has received increased time with both the power play and penalty kill units.
“I’m getting a lot of ice time and more opportunities,” said Shute.
Obviously he has been making the most of these opportunities.
The 14-point outburst is just three points off his best start, which was 11 points in 16 games to start the 2012-2013 season.
The increase in points continues a pattern.
Each year, the 20-year-old has gotten off to a better start than the pervious year.
In 2010 — his first in the league — Shute rattled off just five points through his first 14 games. That increased to seven points in 14 games in 2011.
Shute got off to a torrid start to begin this season. He registered points in nine of the first 10 games for the Ramblers.
He has since gone pointless in the team’s last three.
Over that stretch, Amherst has posted a record of seven wins and six loss, good for fifth place in the Eastlink Division.
The team sits two points behind the Valley Junior A Wildcats and three points behind the Truro Bearcats.
Despite his hot start, Shute said he would trade some of his points for a couple more wins.
Being a leader
The Ramblers do not suffer from experience.
Entering his final year with the club, Shute is one of nine 20-year-olds on the Ramblers’ roster.
Along with the other eight, Shute has taken on a greater role in the dressing room.
“I’m being more of a leader,” he said.
Ramblers’ head coach Jim Bottomley said Shute is one of the players he turns too for leadership in the dressing room.
“We’re counting on him to be a leader up front,” he said.
A successful line
Another aspect of Shute’s hot start is the success had by his line mates, Brock Morrison and Ryan Caswell.
The three play well off each other, and looking at the stats, its not hard to see it.
The trio has combined for 43 points. Morrison leads the team with 16 points (five goals and 11 assists), next is Shute with 14, followed by Caswell with 13 points (five goals and eight assists).
Of the Ramblers 48 goals, Shute’s line has contributed 21 of those. That represents 43 per cent of the team’s total.
“The chemistry is good,” said Shute.
Bottomley has coached Shute for the past three seasons.
“Over my three years, he’s filled different roles,” said the coach.
Bottomley said Shute has flourished with the expanded role given to him this season.
“(Shute) is playing out of position, and he’s the first power play to go on the ice and he kills penalties for us,” he said. “At 20-years-old, we expect a lot from him and he’s delivering.”
Shute is one of three athletes from the Conception Bay North region playing hockey on the mainland.
The other two are Upper Island Cove native Robert Slaney (St. Francis Xavier X-Men) and Riverhead’s Dan Cleary (Detroit Red Wings). For a region that has produced some of the finest hockey players in the province, it could be considered one of the lowest number of players in recent memory.
Shute is off to the best start of the three.
This season is his final one in the MJHL, and Shute said he plans on pursuing university hockey.