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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Conklin's links with high school hockey

TRAVERSE CITY -- Detroit Red Wing Chris Osgood phoned his goalie coach Jim Bedard to get some important information on newcomer Ty Conklin.

"Can Ty golf?"

Bedard hosts an annual golf outing every summer in the Niagara Falls region. Bedard's report to Osgood was that Conklin tamed the best local course, shooting a 73 after three-putting the final hole, a par-5.

Osgood told his coach to keep that scouting report quiet. Osgood's intent was to figure a way to get on a team with Conklin in the Red Wings' annual golf tournament at their Traverse City training camp.

"I'm an overrated golfer," said Conklin. "I was the sixth guy on a six-man high school team."

That high school team, however, was Shattuck-St. Mary's -- a private school in Faribault, Minnesota known today for having the best prep hockey program in the world. Sports Illustrated said this of the Shattuck-St. Mary's hockey program -- "Shattuck-St. Mary's School is to high school hockey what Harvard is to law school."

Ty Conklin was a sophomore in high school in 1992 when he first laid eyes on the Shattuck-St. Mary's campus. A standout goaltender from Alaska, Conklin was recruited to the school that was just beginning to form its hockey identity. It was an easy sell because Conklin fell in love with the campus.

Having a hockey team since 1925, Shattuck-St. Mary's decided to go beyond its local boundaries in the early 1990s. Conklin's first year on campus was the first year that Shattuck-St. Mary's had left its Minnesota high school hockey league, opting for an international schedule.

Although most games were played at home, Conklin played against teams from across the Midwest, prep schools from out east, Midwest college JV teams and far-flung tournaments. A more-than-20-hour bus ride to a tournament in Calgary was good preparation for Conklin's future days in the minor leagues.

"We would play pretty much anyone we could get our hands on," said Conklin. It was starting to get exposure. We would play good prep school teams out east and those teams would get good exposure."

Part of Conklin's experience at Shattuck-St. Mary's was being a member of the golf team, a position that included some nice perks. The entire golf team was comprised of hockey players and the golfers were given junior memberships to a club in Faribault for $50.

"We would go play 36 holes every Saturday and Sunday," said Conklin. "We used to live out there on the course."

And part of Conklin's experience in high school was to help Shattuck-St. Mary's evolve into the hockey power that it is today.

Conklin was part of the ramping up of Shattuck-St. Mary's hockey recruiting and scheduling that led to the program becoming a proving ground for future NHL players. Notable alumni from the school include: Sidney Crosby; Zach Parise; Jonathan Toews; and Jack Johnson.

"At the time when I was there, Shattuck didn't get the recognition that it does now when you get guys like Sid (Crosby) going there," said Conklin. "It gets talked about a lot more now."

Conklin, who signed with the Red Wings this summer as a free agent, went from Shattuck-St. Mary's to the University of New Hampshire and then to the start of his NHL career in 2002 with the Edmonton Oilers.


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