Hockey: Former teammates now on opposite sides

As teammates with the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots, forward Kevin Shier and defenseman Mike Prapavessi

As teammates with the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots, forward Kevin Shier and defenseman Mike Prapavessis led the squad to two championships and a berth in the Royal Bank Cup, the Canadian Junior “A” national tournament.

This weekend, Shier and Prapavessis will put aside the friendship and the memories they made with the Patriots.

Shier, a 21-year-old Union College forward, and Prapavessis, an 18-year-old RPI defenseman, will get their first taste of the Route 7 Rivalry when the Dutchmen and Engineers open ECAC Hockey play in a home-and-home series. RPI (1-5) will host Friday’s game at Houston Field House, while second-ranked Union (5-1) hosts Saturday’s rematch at Messa Rink. Both games start at 7 p.m.

Both players have gotten off to slow starts. Each has an assist. Prapavessis has played in all of RPI’s games. Shier sat out Saturday’s 3-2 loss to St. Cloud State as a healthy scratch, the first game he’s missed this season.

“I talked to him a little bit since he’s been down at RPI and I’ve been down here,” Shier said. “We’re both in similar situations as freshmen. He’s a little younger than I am. He’s having the [same] troubles as I am adjusting [to college life]. It’s going to be really fun, and I’m looking forward to it.”

So is Prapavessis.

“It’ll be a little different since I’m used to playing with him,” Prapavessis said. “I’m sure I’ll talk to him a bit before the game. It’ll be competitive on the ice. We’re big rivals.”

Shier and Prapavessis were two important cogs in the Patriots’ successful 2013-14 season.

Prapavessis was the team’s second-leading scorer with five goals and 50 assists in 47 games. Twenty-six of his assists came on the power play.

He was named the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s top defenseman, as well as its most gentlemanly player. He had just two penalty minutes.

“He’s probably one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” Shier said. “He’s so smart, so poised. He’s so composed with the puck. He’s going to be a real weapon for RPI for a couple of years.

“He finds the open guy every time. He’s so good at finding that seam, whether it’s cross ice on the power play, or backdoor for a tap-in. He probably assisted on half, if not more than half, of my goals last year.”

Shier was the Patriots’ third-leading scorer with 21 goals and 33 assists in 46 games. He was a big reason the Patriots won the OJHL playoffs, being named MVP after collecting eight goals and 24 assists in 19 games.

“He’s definitely a scorer,” Prapavessis said. “He’s a skilled player. He has tons of skill and a great shot; one of the more explosive players on our team last season. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on him this weekend.”

The Patriots then won the Dudley Hewitt Cup, which pitted the champions of the OJHL, Manitoba, Northern Ontario and Saskatchewan junior league champs, plus the tournament host, the Wellington Dukes of the OJHL. By winning that title, the Patriots participated in the Royal Bank Cup, where they were eliminated after going 1-2 in round-robin play. Prapavessis was named the top defenseman in the Royal Bank Cup.

“Everyone was close on that team,” said Prapavessis, a fourth-round pick of the Dallas Stars in last June’s NHL draft. “I definitely keep in touch with Kev. He’s a good kid. He’s a really good player, too. I was pretty close with him. But it’s going to competitive on the ice.”

Categories: College Sports

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