The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/07/11 at 04:51 PM ET
Update: If you missed it, the South Bend Tribune’s Jim Meenan spoke to Sheahan on Tuesday, too: Red Wings prospect and University of Notre Dame forward Riley Sheahan and his teammates will tangle with the University of Minnesota-Duluth in one of the Frozen Four semifinals today (5 PM EDT, ESPN2, ESPN3.com; the University of Michigan and University of North Dakota face off in the other semifinal at 8:30 PM), and Hockey’s Future’s DJ Powers engaged in a Q and A session with Sheahan, discussing his evolution into a forward who can be relied upon in every situation…
Hockey’s Future: Having watched you play this season, one thing I’ve noticed is that you seem to have rounded out your game more and have really improved your defensive play. Can you talk a little about that and how that has enabled you to contribute to your team’s success this season?
Riley Sheahan: When I came to Notre Dame last year, I was coming from a league that wasn’t the most talented, but I did put up a lot of points there. Now being here at Notre Dame, I’ve really focused on becoming a more-rounded player. It’s just kind of gone from there. Coach Jackson is really strict with his systems and he teaches us how to play the game not only in the offensive zone but in the defensive zone as well. I haven’t really gotten too caught up in my point production. I think in the second half of the season, it’s been coming along better. I just try to focus on being effective in all zones and hopefully the (added) numbers will come.
HF: Do you feel that your role on the Notre Dame team is more about being a solid contributor in all areas rather than just as a point producer?
RS: Yeah, definitely. My line is usually matched up with the other team’s strongest line, so I take a lot of pride in that. Part of my job is to help shut down the other team’s best players. I’ll do whatever I have to do to help my team win. If Coach Jackson wants me to be sort of a defensive-minded, shutdown type of player, then that’s what I’ll be and hopefully at the same time I can also contribute some points as well.
As well as his experiences as the Wings’ “summer strength and conditioning” prospect camp this past summer (he’s hoping to attend again)...
RS: I think one of the biggest things that they tried to get across to us at the camp was that there is not much room for error. If you’re playing in the AHL and want to make it up to NHL, then you have to be perfect each and every game. And if you’re playing in the NHL, you can’t make many mistakes. They taught us the importance of being consistent and not making many errors. I was able to bring all of that back to Notre Dame. I feel that I wasn’t making too many mistakes and wasn’t focusing so much on just scoring goals. I’m just focusing on being strong in my play and playing my game without many mistakes. The points eventually starting coming in the second half.
Another thing I learned at the camp that I also learned being at Canada’s World Junior camp was using more of my creative instincts and maybe take more risks to be able to create some more offense. I came back to Notre Dame in the second half with that mindset and it’s been working but it also hasn’t come at the expense of playing within our system either.
And his relationship with the Wings, who are obviously in close contact with Sheahan, and
HF: Have you been in touch with the Red Wings throughout the year?
RS: Yes. They were in Detroit watching me in the CCHA Tournament and have come out to Notre Dame a few times as well. It’s nice to know that they care about my development enough to come watch me play.
And his hopes in terms of what he can provide the Wings with in the future—though you’ll have to read Powers’ article to find out that bit of information.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.