When Shayne Gostisbehere’s 2014-15 campaign with the American Hockey League’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms was cut short due to an ACL tear suffered in an early-season game, it wasn’t the first obstacle the former Dutchmen defenseman had to overcome.
Over and over again, he was told National Hockey League players don’t come from Union, or Florida, for that matter. He was also told that he was too small to be an impact player.
But former Union Men’s Ice Hockey standout Shayne Gostisbehere has been lighting the professional ranks on fire this season, setting new trends for young defenseman, undeterred by those who claimed he would never achieve success.
“You can’t worry about outside noise,” Gostisbehere said. “You just have to focus on yourself and what you can do to get better every day.”
Now, Gostisbehere is not only enjoying success at the NHL level, he is also setting records along the way. On Feb. 13, in a Saturday afternoon tilt against the New Jersey Devils, the man nicknamed “Ghost Bear” broke a 38-year record held by former Colorado Rockies defenseman Barry Beck for the longest point streak by a rookie NHL defensemen.
Gostisbehere’s third period goal that knotted the game up at one extended his point streak to 11 games, setting the new record. Since then, as of Feb. 21, the rookie-of-the-year candidate has extended his streak to 14 games, and has no signs of slowing down.
Gostisbehere’s team went on to lose his record-setting game 2-1, which seemed to be on the young blue-liner’s mind more than the record itself.
“It definitely means something,” Gostisbehere said. “I’m sure my grandpa’s really proud of me, but it’s more of a team game for us. We’re trying to make the playoffs here. It’s a big thing. It leaves a sour taste in our mouths because we needed those two points.”
Gostisbehere has now tallied 34 points through the first 40 games of his rookie campaign, a point per game average that only three other defensemen in the NHL who have played at least 40 games can claim this season. The Margate, Fla. native is scoring at a rate previously unheard of for a rookie defenseman, and doing so in the league’s lowest-scoring era in its entire history.
As Gostisbehere continues his torrid pace and throws his hat in the Calder Trophy race, the award given annually to the NHL’s best rookie, the three-year Dutchmen defenseman never forgets where he came from.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support I received during my time at Union.” Gostisbehere said. “The coaching staff there, my teammates and the school as whole have played a big role in my development.”