© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Prince Albert Raiders forward Shane Danyluk earned the respect of his teammates and Raiders staff with his consistency last season.
He’s not the first guy you notice on the ice with the Prince Albert Raiders.
Hard workers who shadow the other team’s top forwards seldom are. But when you ask Shane Danyluk’s teammates and coaches about the Salmon Arm, B.C., product’s contributions, his play certainly isn’t undervalued.
Carson Perreaux has a unique perspective on Danyluk as a linemate last season and a former roommate.
“He has a work ethic that everybody wants but not everyone has,” Perreaux says. “He comes to the rink every day and no matter what we’re doing he’ll do it as hard as he can.”
Danyluk played in all 72 regular season games and all four in the playoffs. He scored eight times and added 14 assists, taking 27 penalty minutes and going -9 on the season while playing against the opponent’s top line.
Raiders head of player development Dale Derkatch says Danyluk’s understanding of the game allows him to excel. But it’s a lot more than that.
“Shane gives 100 per cent effort every day, whether it’s practice, whether it’s off-ice training or whether it’s being attentive in meetings,” Derkatch says. “It’s a real pleasure having somebody with that kind of character and attitude and it translates on the ice.”
Raiders GM Bruno Campese called Danyluk the “consummate Raider” in an interview with the Daily Herald last spring. It was a sentiment that Danyluk read and appreciated.
“It definitely made me feel good,” he said. “It feels good that he feels the way he does about me. It gives you a lot of confidence.”
Danyluk, along with his billet Carol Ring, had the responsibility last fall of making young German star Leon Draisaitl feel at home after his move to Canada.
It evidently worked. Draisaitl gushes about his roommate.
“Shane is just a great guy. He’s a phenomenal kid. He’s just nice,” Draisaitl says. “Everybody loves him in the dressing room. He just works so tremendously hard. I’ve never seen him play a bad game. He just works every shift. I just love him; he’s a great kid.”
While work ethic enters every conversation about the Raiders forward, associate coach Dave Manson notes that Danyluk was able to stay healthy enough to play every game after missing time in his first two seasons.
In an injury-plagued 2011-12, he played 51 games, posting seven goals and nine assists to go with a -15 and 15 penalty minutes.
In his rookie season, he played 54 games, scoring three goals and 12 assists, was +3 and took six penalty minutes.
Manson says it’s Danyluk’s style of play that makes him effective.
“He plays in all three zones,” Manson said. “Defensively, he really grabbed that role last year. In our own zone he was a guy that you could count on and that translated on the (penalty kill).”
Manson notes it’s Danyluk’s blend of abilities that arguably made him the team’s top penalty killer.
“He’s quick, he’s strong, he has a good stick, he’ll block shots,” Manson said. “He’ll do what it takes to prevent a goal.”
Danyluk has now played a total of 177 games in the WHL, scoring 18 goals, adding 35 assists and drawing 48 penalty minutes with a -15 plus-minus rating.
In 10 playoff games, he has two goals and an assist and is -8.
He was satisfied with his 2012-13 season.
“I think I had a good year,” the 19-year-old forward said. “I got to play all 72 games, which was nice compared to prior years. I would have liked to put up more points but I have my role on the team and I did a good job at it. I’m looking for a bigger role this year.”
He’s no stranger to filling the net.
Danyluk was picked 31st overall in the second round by the Raiders back in 2009 from the Bantam AA Salmon Arm Silvertips. The Raiders had been planning to take a defenceman but couldn’t resist picking Danyluk, who had posted an estimated 180-200 points. (The league didn’t keep track.)
In midget, he scored 34 points in 32 games with the Thompson Blazers in Kamloops.
Danyluk says he gained confidence in his offence last season and after Christmas created more chances.
But his definition of success has changed.
He doesn’t grade his games by points scored or plus/minus. His personal standard is different.
“My effort level,” he says. “If I’m sitting in the dressing room after a game and I gave it my all, even if it didn’t go my way, that’s when I feel the best.”
Danyluk spent the summer lifting weights, doing sprints, agility training and skating. He says he’s in terrific shape.
But what makes him so consistent night after night?
“Not letting my teammates is what motivates me to work hard,” Danyluk says. “If you slack off you’re letting your teammates down so you have to work hard all the time.”
He says that mental preparation is the key to consistency, along with things like hydrating, having injuries treated and getting proper rest.
Danyluk admits that he was “pretty banged up” by the end of the season but a few weeks of rest helped with that.
He’s optimistic about the year ahead, with what he thinks is the most tightly knit group of the teams he’s played with in Prince Albert.
It’s an older team that was built to win this season, as partially evidenced by the trade for 20-year-old netminder Cole Cheveldave.
After finishing last overall in 2011-12, the Raiders were briefly in first overall in the WHL early last season before a long decline led to a fifth place finish in the Eastern Conference.
Danyluk says it provided a meaningful lesson to his team.
“I think it was our early season success,” he says after a long pause. “I think we thought that it was going to be easy the rest of the year, the way we started. Especially after Christmas, the speed of the game picks up when everyone is trying to make a push for the playoffs.
“I don’t think that we were ready for that.”
He says it will be different this year.
“Now is the time.”