The Pittsburgh Penguins have had quite the season this year and have made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Since making it to the playoffs this year, the Penguins have had a few standout players that have helped them make the push for the cup. Newly emerging rookie sensation Conor Sheary is one of those players.
Moving to the big times
Many may have not even heard of Conor Sheary before this year’s post-season began, with the exception of the die-hard Pittsburgh fans. Sheary is at the ripe young age of 23 and spent his collegiate career playing hockey for UMass-Amherst, a well renowned hockey university that plays in the Hockey East division. Sheary played at Amherst for four years and averaged 9.5 goals and 16.5 assists per season in the college 34 game season. When Sheary finished college he began playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL team, the Scranton Penguins. He spent three seasons in the AHL but only really played in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons before being brought up to the big leagues. Sheary was signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 2nd, 2015 and played 44 regular season games for the Penguins where he scored seven goals and registered three assists, which may not sound like too great of an achievement. But when Sheary’s team reached the post-season, that is when he truly made an impact for his team.
Coming alive on the big stage
In his 19 postseason games for the Pens, Sheary scored four times and got five assists, but his goals have been crucial for his team. When Sheary scores points he does it in spurts, the first two goals of the playoffs came in games 4 and 5 of their series with the New York Rangers, which were their final two games of that series. He then registered two of his assists in games 3 and 4 of the Washington Capitals series, and then again in games 4 and 5 of the Tampa Bay Lightning series. But Sheary’s biggest impact to date occurred just a couple of nights ago, in games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final series against the San Jose Sharks. Sheary scored the second goal of the night for the Pens in game 1, and scored the overtime game winner in game 2 to give the Penguins the 2-0 lead in the series, going back to San Jose.
On the Reel
Sheary’s OT winner on Wednesday night, for Game 2 of the Finals, was exactly what his team needed at the perfect moment. Sidney Crosby had won the face-off in the offensive zone like he had been doing the entire night, and the face-off went to Kris Letang, who then saw the open Sheary in the middle of the ice and the rest was history. The play was so quick and efficient that if you looked away for even a few seconds you would have missed the whole thing.
Onwards for Conor Sheary
I guess you could say that rookie Conor Sheary has had an alright first season in the NHL, especially now that he has given his team a very good chance of winning the Stanley Cup. You can’t get much better than winning the Stanley Cup in your rookie season and scoring in crucial game-time situations to help your team get there. But Sheary can, and will, keep improving for next season, regardless of if they win or not. This kid has a lot of speed and quickness that can frustrate any defense, and has the right mind to know where to be at the right time to finish goals. He can clearly play under pressure and excel, which is an invaluable trait to have for any NHL pro. The Penguins hope to see Sheary return for next season so they can make another run at the Cup.