BILLERICA, Mass. -- Last season, Casey Shea lifted Woburn to a Middlesex League title and a Super 8 appearance, tallying 21 goals and 23 assists. Never was the Tanner forward better than in their Super 8 play-in game against Springfield Cathedral when Shea scored each of Woburn's five goals against the Panthers.
This season, Shea and the fifth-ranked Tanners are primed to get back to the state's biggest stage.
We caught up with the UMass-Lowell commit during a recent scrimmage with Billerica:
Q: You've been characterized as an unselfish player. Which to you get more satisfaction from: a goal or an assist?
A: "I just like to slow the puck down. I like to pass the puck more, just getting my teammates involved. I just try to hustle and move the puck. You just try to slow down the play as much as you can."
Q: What did you learn from that Super 8 experience that you can take into this season?
A: "I think it's just to go all-out, all the time, because everybody's always watching. Like anything else, if you keep hustling, good things will happen. You do whatever you can do to make a positive impact for your teammates."
Q: You have an experienced team coming back this season. What kind of expectations do you have for this group?
A: "It's really the same as last year. But this year, we just want to take it to the next level, we want to go further than we did last year. We had a very good team last year, but we just couldn't seem to get thing working in the playoffs. We had some close games."
Q: You made your college commitment to UMass-Lowell in September. What went into that decision for you?
A: "Their old coach [Blaise MadDonald] contacted me a while ago, then it kind of faded. But then their new coach [Norm Bazin] was at one of my tournament games in the fall. He called me after the tournament and that was pretty much it."
Q: I don't know if you ever think about things like this, but what does your commitment to a Hockey East mean to you coming out of a public school hockey program?
A: "It's great. I'm one of the only kids that are already committed that is going to one of those schools, and coming from a public school is great. It's great playing with kids I've known all my life. And I love our fans, they're crazy."
Q: You guys had some pretty crazy fan sections during the Super 8. What's it like playing in front crowds like that?
A: "Everyone in our school loves going to the hockey games. They show up for every single game, it's awesome to be around."
Q: What's the pregame ritual for Woburn hockey?
A: "The day before a game, we all get together for a pasta party. We all get together. We have a team curfew of 10 o'clock, so there's nothing crazy. But we're all together until we go to bed and then get ready for the game on Saturday."
Q: How did you get into hockey?
A: "My whole family plays. My sister played four years ago in the high school program, my dad played, everybody played. I started skating when I was about 2 years old. My grandfather was the rink manager at Belmont, so I'd skate there all the time."