Thunderbirds’ 16U AAA standouts Shore, Foote make plans for future
The Colorado Thunderbirds develop their players for higher levels of hockey, plain and simple.
There is no overlooking the extensive alumni list on the program’s website at www.tbirdhockey.org.
Expect two new names to join that list is Thunderbirds’ 16U AAA National forwards Nolan Foote and Baker Shore, both of whom made decisions on their respective futures recently.
Foote will join older brother Cal with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL) and Shore, the youngest of four hockey-playing brothers (Drew, Nick, Quentin), made his debut in early April with the United States Hockey League’s (USHL) Chicago Steel.
Both Foote and Shore made it to the national semifinals this season with the T-Birds.
Shore was chosen sixth overall by the Steel in Phase I of the 2015 USHL Draft and said getting some junior experience was a major confidence booster for the future.
“It felt awesome,” said Shore (pictured right). “It was a great experience and I’m glad to get a few games under my belt. This season was a great run with a great group of guys. I’ve been playing with the Thunderbirds since my 11U year and it’s been tremendous. The Thunderbirds really helped me grow as a player and as a person. I can’t thank my coaches and the organization as a whole enough.”
The USHL is the country’s top breeding ground for NCAA prospects and with full-time duty next season, Shore is looking to gain college exposure. All his brothers went to the University of Denver with Quentin wrapping his senior season earlier this month. Nick and Drew have seen time in the NHL.
For Foote, whose father, Adam, played 20 years in the NHL, mostly with the Colorado Avalanche, the WHL route, which nullifies any NCAA eligibility, was the best option for his game.
And it doesn’t hurt when you share a roof with a future teammate.
“I had to choose Kelowna over the NCAA because the Kelowna Rockets is such a great organization,” said the younger Foote. “Great coaches and great forwards have come out of the Rockets organization and I’m looking forward to having the chance to play with my brother. I think playing with Cal is going to be a great experience because we have never played together and it will be fun to play with him.”
Nolan Foote (pictured top, with Cal) was drafted by the Rockets in the second round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. Cal was selected in the same round by Kelowna two years earlier.
“Nolan is the player we wanted all along,” said Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton on draft day. “We’re thrilled to get him.”
“It’s exciting to be drafted by Kelowna,” said Nolan. “Where Kelowna is located is an amazing spot and it’s a great organization.”
In March, Nolan Foote was invited to attend the 2016 USA National Team Development Program (NTDP) Evaluation Camp at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich. And while Foote obviously will not go that route, Thunderbirds director of hockey operations and 16U AAA National coach Angelo Ricci is elated to see his players garner national notice.
“The Thunderbirds are proud that our highly nationally-ranked program continues to provide an environment that is advancing players to the NTDP,” said Ricci. “It is a credit to our players, the Thunderbirds coaching staff and our program as a whole.”
Foote can’t wait for Kelowna’s training camp in late summer.
“I’m just going to listen to the coaches and when I get my ice time, I’ll play the best I can be,” said Foote, who has been with the Thunderbirds since his 11U season. “If there are times when I’m not playing, I will watch other players and learn from them.
“My father has really been a key role in my development and I wouldn’t be where I am today without his hockey sense.”
— Matt Mackinder