Shepley anchors an inexperienced blueline

Although the men’s hockey team may not have had their best season (9-17-2), that’s not to say there haven’t been some standout players on the rink.

When people think of the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, the defence can sometimes be overlooked, but that is exactly where you’ll find veteran Zack Shepley.

Currently in his third year with the team, Shepley brings some much needed experience to the blue-line for the struggling team, largely aided by his four years in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Plymouth Whalers (2003-2007) and the Brampton Battalion (2007-2008). But his success began much earlier.

“My dad got me into it early,” said Shepley. “He’s coached me the whole way and been a big influence so far.”

Shepley’s performance on the ice this year could be considered one of his best since starting with the Golden Hawks in 2009, where he has a total of six points to rank third among defencemen for the team. He also leads the blueliners with a career total of 13 points.

His commanding presence and evident skill on the back line have helped to keep the shots and goals down to a minumum and this could be attributed to his time in the OHL.

“The biggest difference is that when you’re in the OHL, your main focus is hockey and everything else has to go alongside that,” Shepley said. “You don’t know what to expect coming from the OHL to the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport). You don’t expect the speed of the hockey and how good it actually is.”

When asked about why he chose Laurier, he responded, “I love it here,” before adding that, “school is the most important thing to have to fall back on if a pro career doesn’t work and the small school atmosphere really catered to what I liked.”

Even with classes on top of a hectic varsity schedule, Shepley still manages to find time to hone his skills and improve.

“Putting in the extra effort” is what Shepley believes is the biggest factor to success.

“So many guys want the exact same thing as you and at the end of the day what you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it,” said the rearguard.

Despite a difficult season, the Hawks still made it to the playoffs as the eighth seed in the OUA West, and Shepley and the team are really looking forward to going far.

“The extra time you dedicate to the game and everything else that gets you where you want to be is essential,” said Shepley.

And that is exactly what they’ll need to do in the forthcoming games against the number-one ranked Western squad in the conference quarterfinals.

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