Shattuck-Saint Mary's School in Faribault, Minn., has been named "the Hogwarts of Hockey."
The boarding school has churned out 18 players who have made it to the National Hockey League, with eight graduates currently in the league, including for No. 1 overall draft picks Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon, along with Chicago Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews. Five players from the U.S. Women's National team who won gold in the 2018 Olympics also attended the school.
Woodruff resident Turner Richards hopes to join the list one day after opting to enroll at Shattuck-Saint Mary's for his freshman year of high school.
"I'm pretty nervous, but at the same time, I'm pretty excited about it, too," Richards said.
Richards spent this past season playing for the 2004 Green Bay Jr. Gamblers - coached by former NHL All-Star Brian Rafalski - and played with the Lakeland Hawks in the past.
It was at Eagle River Hockey School where Richards was discovered by Shattuck-Saint Mary's.
The lead instructor of the camp, Jason Fredricks, is also a lead instructor and coach for Shattuck, which led to a tryout for Richards.
"It'll be quite a challenge," Richards said. "I probably won't start on the first line there. I'll have to make my way up there."
A high school freshman-to-be leaving home is not an easy task, particularly for parents.
Turner's father, Dr. Mark Richards, said the decision was difficult, but in the end they decided it was in the best interest for his future.
"It was a really hard decision," Mark Richards said. "He played on a really good team last year - the Green Bay Gamblers - and so it was a really tough decision. Shattuck is a great program, it'll be a good team and a great school, but it's tough to send your 14-year-old away from home. We ultimately made a decision for something he really wanted to do. It took about four weeks for us to finally say yes."
It's not the first time a member of the Richards family has embarked on a similar journey.
Mark Richards saw his cousin, Brad, leave home at an early age to attend Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, a similar prep school to Shattuck in Saskatchewan.
Brad Richards, of course, went on to become an NHL All-Star, playing 15 seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, New York Ranges, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, earning the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Having a former NHL star in the family helps navigate uncharted waters, as does working with Minocqua native and former NHL veteran Patrick Dwyer.
"I know the likelihood of him ever playing pro hockey is like winning a lottery ticket," Mark Richards said. "It's very hard to play Division I, too. It's the start of the process. It's something that he wants to do, but his mom and I have told him talent will only take you so far. It's hard work that ultimately gets you where you want to be. It's exciting but we're trying to all stay grounded and realize there are lots of other kids given this opportunity at this time and there will only be a few left at the end these few years."
Richards will start on the bantam squad for the Sabres and attempt to work his way through the system.
Shattuck has bantam, 16U AAA, 16U prep, 18U AAA and 18U prep teams.
Nick Sabato may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter@NickSabatoLT.
Posted: Sunday, July 15, 2018
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Turner is a great young man, buenos suerte Turner!!!