TISDALE — While Tisdale Trojans forward Ashtyn Shields has already committed to play in the junior ranks next season, his current head coach can foresee a day when the talented player is behind the bench.
A 16-year-old Esterhazy product, Shields has signed to suit up for the Battlefords North Stars of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. His intellectual approach to the game he loves could one day lead the current Trojan to a coaching role.
“His hockey IQ is up there with some of the best I’ve coach,” Tisdale head coach Dennis Kubat said. “He thinks the game at a high level. He is going to make a good coach someday. He has those instincts. He has those leadership skills. He just knows the game and loves the game.”
The Trojans are pleased to have the Shields on the ice this season. As of Sunday, he was fourth on the team with 18 points, including six goals, in 30 games. The team also counts on him for leadership. Shields is one of the Trojans’ four assistant captains this season.
“He’s a very positive guy,” Kubat said. “He always thinks before he speaks. He leads by example on the ice. … He leads in the classroom. I don’t think he has missed a workout all year. He leads in the gym. Just a guy who does the right thing all of the time.”
Enjoying his time with the Trojans, Shields billets with Kubat and his wife Carmelle and their son Jones.
“I couldn’t have asked for better billets,” he said.
Shields said playing for the Trojans has improved his game physically and mentally. “My speed has improved a ton,” he said. “I have been set back in terms of speed since my broken femur back in 2015. My situational play has really taken off. I’m now able to play special teams more crisply than ever before and playing in high leverage situations really helps me develop.”
Next season Shields plans to take his talents to North Battleford. “Playing with the North Stars presents a brand-new opportunity for me to grow into the person and the hockey player that I want to become,” he said. “I really look forward to the challenge of playing in the SJHL as a 17-year-old. It’s going to be a very tough challenge, but I’ve always been the guy to rise to the challenge instead of backing down.”
On the North Stars, Shields will be reunited with friend and former long-time teammate Marshall Light. Light currently plays for the U18 AAA Estevan Bears.
“We’ve played together since we were six years old, and this year was one of the only years we had been separated, so I can’t wait to get back on the ice with a familiar face,” Shields said.
Shields hails from an athletically talented family. Younger sister Kiah plays U15 AA girls hockey with the Prairie Storm. His mother, Kelsey, played NCAA Division 1 volleyball for Drexel University in Philadelphia. Shields’ father, Dave, suited up for the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires for four seasons. He went on to play professionally for three seasons with the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League and spent a campaign with the United Hockey League’s Richmond (Va.) RiverDogs. Dave Shields has had a long, high scoring career in the senior ranks with the Esterhazy Flyers.
“I couldn’t imagine what my childhood would have been like without growing up in the hockey environment,” Shields said. “I spent countless hours at the rink with the senior team in Esterhazy, and countless hours at practice or shinny at the arena. It helped shape me into who I am. Hockey is a huge part of my life and it always has been.”
Shields’ passion for sports is not just limited to hockey. Kubat said, “He loves sports and everything that goes with them.”
While his busy hockey schedule has meant Shields no longer curls or plays badminton, in the summer he golfs and suits up for the U18 AAA White Butte Broncos of the Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League. He describes himself as “a first baseman who can get the job done from the right side of the plate, while taking the odd at bat from the left side.”
“I’m a huge baseball fan,” Shields said. “I love the Jays. My favourite player in Vlad [Vladimir Guerrero Jr.], absolutely love the way the guy can mash a ball at the plate. I still struggle to answer the question of ‘which sport do you like better?’ I simply just don’t know the answer to that.
The Trojans last week
Wednesday, Jan 19 in Prince Albert
Prince Albert 7, Tisdale 4
Trojans Scorers: Madden Wallis, Finley Radloff, Parker Dunn, Ashtyn Shields
Mintos Scorers: Jacob Cossette (3), Ashton Tait (2), Zachary Bansley, Travis Swanson,
Goalies: Colin Wilson, Tisdale, 35 saves on 41 shots; Jayden Kraus, Prince Albert, 13 on 17
Notes: The Trojans scored the game’s first two goals. The teams were tied at 2-2 after the first period. The Mintos scored twice in the second to lead 4-2. Each team scored twice in the final period before P.A. added an empty net goal. The Mintos were 3-for-3 on the powerplay. “We had flashes where I really liked our game,” Trojans head coach Dennis Kubat said. “At times, we played to our identity. We had some nice line rushes. In the O-zone, we had good support and puck possession at times. We just need to work on communication in the D-zone and not getting out worked.”
The Trojans’ two road games against the Battlefords Stars last weekend were postponed. This was due to COVID-19 protocol.
The Tisdale Trojans (3-25-2) host the Moose Jaw Warriors (20-12-1) for a pair of games this weekend. The squads play on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. On Feb. 1, the Saskatoon Contacts (16-8-6) visit.