Shane Donovan is proof what a little bit of confidence can do.
The junior center for the Northern Lakes Lightning has scored 15 of his team-high 29 points in the team's last five games
"The biggest thing with Shane is confidence," said Lightning head coach Craig Larson. "Like any high school player, once they get a little thing going they tend to build on it. Shane got some puck luck a little bit certainly when we were at Proctor the week before and he was really good in a 3-0 loss against Prairie Centre, really good. We outshot them and outplayed them, but it was just one of those games.
"Then when the Becker game came around he was just lights out. He wanted the puck on his stick a lot and was making a lot of good plays. He was distributing the puck well. Once you get that little bit of confidence it doesn't take long to keep things rolling."
Donovan was rolling in a 6-4 Mid-State Conference victory over Wadena-Deer Creek Jan. 25. He tallied three goals and two assists to help the Lightning overcome a slow start and a 2-0 deficit.
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- Year: Junior
- Team: Northern Lakes
- Sport: Boys hockey
- Position: Center
- Highlights: In two wins finished with four goals and five assists
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"That first period we came out a little slow," Donovan said. "We kind of found ourselves in the second and third period. We knew what had to be done and came out and showed it."
Donovan opened the second period with a power-play goal and assisted on Kyler Couture's goal to hand the Lightning a 3-2 lead. W-DC responded with back-to-back goals before Donovan assisted on Hunter Nybakken's goal to make it 4-3 W-DC.
Then Donovan rattled off two straight goals, including an empty-netter for the victory.
The night before, in a 7-1 win over Becker-Big Lake, Donovan posted a goal and three assists.
"He's finding the net," Larson said. "He's averaging six to 10 shot attempts per game and he's probably hitting five of them. He's sitting at 29 points in 19 games so he's well over a point-a-game guy. The other night in Wadena, if somebody had a video camera taping some of the stuff he was trying there would have been some highlight reels. End-to-end rushes where we had other guys who were tired and he always finds another gear.
"It's important at this time in the year when your best player is playing his best hockey."
He added a goal against Crookston and tallied four goals and an assist in a 7-3 win over Park Rapids.
Donovan has 13 goals and 16 assists on the season. He's tallied four power-play goals and has four power-play assists. The center is teamed with sophomores Hunter Nybakken and Kyler Couture. Together they've posted 52 points.
"I think it comes with great teammate work," Donovan said. "I couldn't do it by myself.
"The kids came up and I don't think I've seen a group of harder working kids," Donovan said. "Those kids, it's phenomenal the amount of work that they put in at practice and by themselves, too."
Last season, Donovan battled mononucleosis for much of the season, but still finished with 14 goals and 11 assists.
As a freshman, he was third on the Lightning with 10 goals and eight assists, but again battled injuries.
"It's all about staying healthy, I guess," Donovan said. "Last year wasn't very fun. I missed quite a few games last year because of mono. I'm eating healthy. Drinking lots of water and taking better care of my body."
Larson said Donovan's speed and vision are what makes him a lethal offensive player, but it's not just on the offensive side.
"He's very good at seeing the ice," Larson said. "I think he's a step ahead of the plays that he makes and it's because of how fast he is. He makes plays, that sometimes I wish he didn't make, but the thing is it's based on his creativity. He's a very creative hockey player. He's able to do that because he plays a wide-open style. He still plays a full 200-foot game, but he does it with a very wide-open style. He's very good in the defensive zone and he gets the 200-foot game. He works very hard at it. He creates a lot of opportunities with how hard he works in the defensive zone."
Along with staying healthy, Donovan said leadership was his big point of emphasis for this season.
"I knew we had a young team coming in, but I just think it's being a good role model for these younger guys," Donovan said. "They're only going to grow and become better players.
"I just wanted to be a big part of our team. I wanted to be a great role model for the younger kids coming up and I think I'll have the same goals next year because we'll have a young team again."
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Eli Richter, Lake Region, finished with 25 points against Foundation.
Peter Schommer, Pierz, finished with 23 points against Milaca.
Torry Hirschey, Pine River-Backus, finished with 20 points against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.
Kade Hopperstad, Aitkin, finished with 22 points against Staples-Motley.
Isaac Christoffersen, Staples-Motley, finished with 21 points against Aitkin.
Brady Raph, Pine River-Backus, finished with 33 points against Swanville.
Brandon Stuckmayer, Pierz, finished with 25 points against Long Prairie-Grey Eagle.
Hockey: Kasey Couture, Northern Lakes, finished with two goals and an assist against Becker.
Max Phillips, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with two goals and an assist against Bagley.
Wrestling: Jake Poehler, Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus, finished 5-0 and earned All-Mid-State Conference honors.
Carson Kullhem and Luke Pelarski, Aitkin, finished 5-0 to earn All-Mid-State Conference honors.
Taylor Eigenheer, Crosby-Ironton, finished 5-0 to earn All-Mid-State Conference honors.