CEDAR RAPIDS - Having already tasted some success with the Cedar Rapids High School hockey program as a mere freshman in 2018-19, Springville sophomore Brendan Shaner took his game to an entirely new level this past season while helping the Roughriders’ program to new heights in the Eastern division of the Midwest High School Hockey League (MHSHL).
Shaner, playing his second straight season at the varsity level with the prestigious program, helped the Cedar Rapids High School team to a sensational 21-9-2 overall record this past winter, a huge improvement from just four years ago when the team was winless going 0-29.
“I felt like our team improved immensely from a team chemistry standpoint to our overall skills in general,” said Shaner, who took the ice with the team in early November and wrapped up March 8, with a narrow 3-0 loss to the Kansas City Jets in the MHSHL’s tournament championship game held in Ames.
“It was a great season all-around for everyone.”
Shaner, mainly a defenseman with the Roughriders, played in 30 games scoring six goals with 12 assists.
“For me personally, I felt I progressed a lot as a player on and off the ice,” he said. “My biggest issue this season was my discipline and self-control on the ice.
“As the season went on though, I gained lots of discipline and a good amount of self-control. I’ve been playing defense ever since I started playing hockey so I’d say that fits me very well. I was definitely happy with the turnaround this season, but it would’ve been awesome to win the championship for all the seniors, though I think everyone on our team would side with me in saying we were pleased that we beat Waterloo in the semi-finals.”
Waterloo had dominated the Roughriders each of the last two years winning eight of their last nine match-ups (including a win in last year’s MHSHL tournament championship game), but Cedar Rapids cruised past the top-seeded Warriors’ team 4-0 in the tournament semi-final March 7.
Cedar Rapids opened the tournament as the No. 5 seed and immediately posted an upset knocking off fourth-seeded Omaha 2-0 in the quarter-finals on March 6.
The 2019-20 success has flamed Shaner’s fire for hockey even more, as he plans on taking his game to an even higher level next winter.
“I have some big goals,” he said. “As a player with me being a junior next year and in a leadership position with the team, I want to make sure I’m a role model for all the underclassmen and all of my teammates. I’ve got some goals for on the ice, too. I’d like to be more confident with the puck and being able to move the puck quicker while also getting better with my shot.
“I’d definitely like to score more goals, too. This year I tripled my points (18 points on six goals and 12 assists) from last year when had six points as a freshman (two goals and four assists) which is a huge milestone for me, especially since I don’t show up on the scoresheet very often.”
Having played hockey for most of his life, and with just two seasons left at the high school level, Shaner continues to relish everything the game has to offer.
“What I love most is the adrenaline rush hockey gives me,” he said. “The constant moving and the fast pace and quick-thinking aspects of the game. I love it, but what fuels my passion the most in the bond you form with everyone around you. The hockey community is the strongest community you’ll ever see or hear about. If something happens in the hockey world, everyone responds to it. NHL players, junior players, all types of support comes from everywhere. It’s such a great sport.”