Like many athletes, Nick Shore grew up a pretty big sports fan. His family kept newspaper articles depicting Avalanche Stanley Cup triumphs from 1996 and 2001, and he still makes it to a few Rockies games over the summer. Collegiate and professional hockey has kept him from attending Denver Broncos games over the last several years, though he still hopes that Payton Manning is employed in the Mile High City come September, 2015.
If you’re not as familiar with Shore’s background or couldn’t find a trend in the sports teams he grew up supporting, he’s a Denver native, and tonight’s game will be his first regular season NHL game in the city he grew up and attended college in. Shore, a University of Denver product along with brothers Drew (a part of the Calgary Flames organization) and Quentin (an Ottawa Senators draft pick), along with brother Baker, born in 1999, will have plenty of opportunities to get re-acquainted with the Avalanche. The two teams will meet again in Denver on March 10 before concluding the season series in Los Angeles on April 4.
“It’s awesome. You don’t really get the chance to play in front of some of your family and friends very often, so it’s obviously nice being back,” he said. Supporting him in the stands tonight will be his brothers – though not likely Drew, who is playing for Adirondack – as well as his parents, friends, and “some of the guys that go to school.”
It’s his first game in Denver since he scored on his second shift of a pre-season game at the Pepsi Center as part of a two-point night on September 20, 2013.
“It was my first camp, so that was my first preseason game other than the split squad the first year,” he said. “It was a cool experience to be a part of and I think that helps a lot, your first year playing in one of those games. That’s all I really have to draw on as far as playing in this building, but looking forward to it.”
He skated alongside Dwight King and Justin Williams in that game and will be flanked by Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan tonight.
“I think it’s a really exciting opportunity, but once you get into it it’s just another hockey game,” he said.
Nick Shore, on whether he remembers his first game at the Pepsi Center:
No not really. I know I came to a bunch of games growing up. I was pretty young at that point, but we were always Avalanche fans growing up. So I definitely made it to a couple.
Shore, on whether he has any Avalanche merchandise or memorabilia:
I think we had a couple of the newspaper articles when they won in ’96 and ’01. [Reporter: So that obviously had to change, at least certainly when you’re playing against them.] Yeah, I’ve been back home in a while, so we’ll see. It’s just an exciting opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.
Shore, on the number of Kings games his parents have attended since his call-up:
They just went to my first two out in LA. They made it out for my first game and then they stayed for one more.
Shore, on how he has adapted to his role in Los Angeles:
It’s a change for me, but at the same time I think you’re going to do whatever is asked of you and try to contribute as best as you can, whatever it is. Whether it’s killing penalties, not playing a ton of minutes or anything like that, I think you take the opportunities that you’re given and try to make the most of them.
Shore, on whether he is feeling more comfortable at the NHL level:
Yeah, and I think a big thing is you get accustomed to playing with certain guys. You start to learn certain tendencies and I think that’s a huge help as far as just knowing where people are on the ice. I definitely think that every game you get a little more comfortable.