Shantz will be a nice addition to Flames' defense
June 18, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Defensive zone transition was one of the facets of the game Liberty University's Division I men's hockey team struggled with the most last season.
In Peter Shantz, Flames head coach Kirk Handy believes he's found a solution.
"A big thing that we want from our defensemen is we want a guy who is able to move the puck," Handy said. "Pete has great gap control and supports the puck really well."
When Handy traveled to see Shantz in action as captain of the Grimsby Junior "C" Hockey Club in the All-Ontario championships this past March, he was impressed with his consistency and efficiency.
"Pete's a player who when we saw him play, he was in control the whole time," Handy said. "He's a very, very steady two-way defenseman. You know what you're getting out of Pete every night. He's not a guy to run around and use his energy in an unwise manner. He's very efficient in how he moves around the ice."
Shantz brings other strengths to the table that make him a good fit for the position, and Liberty's program.
"Obviously, we were looking to get another right-handed defensemen, which is something else that was a key factor," Handy said. "We wanted someone who also has the size we were in need of, which is a big positive attribute with Pete, who's 6-foot-4, 205 pounds. He's a very lean guy and because of his size, he's able to cover a lot of ice. He's also very good at communicating with those around him."
Shantz's veteran leadership and winning mentality are tremendous benefits.
"The biggest thing from Pete is he's someone who knows how to win," Handy said, noting he played key roles in Grimsby's 2011 and 2012 tournament titles. "He's won at different levels and adds a pedigree to the program that we need. We need proven winners, and that's the thing about Pete. He's really, really excited about making a difference on our team next year and he has the ability to be a leader on our team one day."
Last season, Shantz was named not only Grimsby's best defensemen, but also the best team builder.
"Pete's personality is one that will fit in very nicely with the guys on our team," Handy said.
"My personality in the dressing room, and personal values, the whole persona, go right along with the Liberty way," added Shantz, who received his undergraduate degree in economics from McMaster University and plans to pursue a master's degree in counseling with a business focus at Liberty.
During a campus visit this past spring, Shantz stayed with Jackson Kuhn and hung out with Matt Sherry, fellow defensemen who live approximately two hours from his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. His older brother David, who was drafted by the Florida Panthers in 2004, is a close friend of Liberty goalies coach Mike Binnie.
"It's a terrific group of guys, really good character guys," Shantz said. "It's a great group of skilled guys back there."
This past season, Shantz scored seven goals and distributed 16 assists for Grimsby, while accruing a team-high 74 penalty minutes. He was also good at covering for teammates while they served time in the penalty box and understands his job will be to clear the puck to teammates and ignite the attack.
"I'm there to kind of clean up the junk in front of me," he said. "Just being a big body out there on the defensive corps as a shut-down defenseman is a definite asset."
He hopes to help Liberty — which was eliminated by Ohio in the second of the American Collegiate Hockey Association DI national tournament last season — get over the hump in the postseason next March.
"I'm definitely looking to come in and solidify the back end and take the next step and win a national championship," Shantz said.
The Flames will open the 2013-14 season with two series against teams not affiliated with the ACHA — the Atlanta Junior A Knights on Sept. 6 and 7 and Hampton Whalers Sept. 13 and 14 at the LaHaye Ice Center — before beginning ACHA play Sept. 20 and 21 at West Virginia.