Hill-Murray's Mitch Slattery scores a shootout goal against St. Thomas Academy goaltender David Zevnik. Photo by Adam Crane
Hill-Murray junior Mitch Slattery with the puck is entertainment at the highest level.
Think David Copperfield with a stack of coins or David Blaine with a deck of cards.
Wildly creative and wholly unpredictable, Slattery has the ability to mesmerize opposing defensemen and goaltenders by pulling from a tool bag stuffed with an array of zigs and zags and dipsy doodles.
Pioneers coaches and teammates just shake their head and smile when asked about Slattery’s unconventional style.
“I knew something interesting was going to happen when Slattery went out there,” Hill-Murray forward Willie Brown said about Slattery’s shootout attempt against St. Thomas Academy goaltender David Zevnik in the Schwan Cup Gold Division championship game on Friday, Dec. 28.
Slattery, mimicking Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks in a successful shootout attempt against the Minnesota Wild last season, slowed to a crawl as he skated toward Zevnick, then made a long series of dizzying fakes before finally stuffing it behind the Cadets’ goaltender.
“I think he faked a shot maybe three times, pulled it to his backhand twice,” said Brown who also scored in the shootout as the Pioneers beat the Cadets (the game officially is recorded as a 3-3 tie) at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. “He was trying to get the goalie to slide, that’s what happened. He had the whole net to tuck it in.
“It’s fun to watch.”
Junior forward Mitch Slattery leads Hill-Murray with 10 goals this season. Photo by Adam Crane
Hill-Murray assistant coach Pat Schafhauser filled in for Pioneers head coach Bill Lechner, who was in Colorado to meet a new grandchild. Schafhauser said choosing Slattery for the shootout was the easiest decision he made all night.
“They asked me who we were going to send out for the shootout, and I didn’t even have to think for a moment who the first shooter was going to be,” Schafhauser said. “I’ve watched him in practice and in games, and we’ve all seen what kind of offensive ability he has.
“There wasn’t a question that he was going to be out there.”
A 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior, Slattery is a forward who possesses the size and strength to win a high percentage of corner battles, shield defenders from the puck and hold his ground in the crease. But he also is incredibly effective in open ice, as he showed on a second-period goal when he somehow got past a St. Thomas Academy defenseman on his way to beating Zevnik.
Slattery grew up playing his youth hockey in the Centennial system through his first year of Bantams. He played the previous two seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary’s before transferring to Hill-Murray before the start of the school year.
“Shattuck was just kind of an expensive school,” Slattery said about his reasons for making the move. “Everything has been going well. School is good, hockey is good. I can’t complain.”
Through 12 games Slattery leads the Pioneers with 10 goals and ranks second with 18 points.
“At this age and this level to have the type of composure he has with the puck is pretty impressive,” Schafhauser said. “He gets to the edge where you think he is going to get hit or turn the puck over or something is going to happen, and he comes away with it.”
As for his shootout goal, Slattery said he saw Kane again successfully emply the same series of moves in a recent game.
“He is playing over in Europe or somewhere, and he just did it again,” Slattery said. “So it was pretty funny.
“I thought I would try it out.”
Mitch Slattery's shootout goal starts at 1:05