The Topeka RoadRunners have announced that second-year forward Steve Shafer has committed to Canisius College (Atlantic Hockey) for next season.
He is the sixth player who competed in last month's NAHL Top Prospects Tournament to commit to a school after the event.
Through 45 games this year, the Rochester, Mich., native ranks second in team scoring with 15 goals for 49 points. He is also a plus-13.
“It's awesome knowing I'll be in a great place for the next four years,” the 19-year-old Shafer said of his decision to attend the Buffalo, N.Y., school. “The coaching staff and players at Canisius were unbelievable during my visit.”
The road to playing Division I hockey is a long one, and Shafer acknowledged those who helped him achieve his goals.
“I couldn't have done it without the support of my family,” he said. “They've all dedicated so much to me playing hockey and I'm glad I get the opportunity to get a top-notch education and I know they are, too.”
His head coach for the past two seasons in Topeka, Scott Langer, has left his mark on Shafer's career as well.
“Coach Langer has helped me in so many areas of my game,” he added. “He's hard on me, but it's so I never get complacent and keep striving to get better. He gave me the opportunity to get a scholarship and for that I'm grateful.”
Langer is pleased to see Shafer, the sixth player from this year's RoadRunners team to commit to a Division I program, rewarded for his hard work.
“Steve plays the game at a very good pace and has high-end vision,” said the coach. “He's the type of player that just seems to come up big when needed.
“(Canisius) Coach (Dave) Smith is not just getting a good hockey player, but he's also getting a great young man.”
Off the ice, Shafer is grateful for the support he's received from the team's owner, Mary Magdalene Lorang.
“I feel privileged to have both played for and lived with the best owner in the league,” said Shafer. “She's done so much for me personally as well as our team and the city of Topeka.”
While Shafer now has next four years all mapped out, he's still excited about what lies ahead for this year's RoadRunners team.
“Getting so far last season (to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament) and not winning was very tough for me personally and it drove me to work hard all summer and really prepare myself so I could help my team raise the Cup this spring.”
And he knows that he's had the good fortune of being on some good teams in his junior career as well.
“I'm lucky to have played with some great players and terrific teammates over the years,” Shafer acknowledged. “Them pushing me everyday in practice has really helped me develop into the player I am.”
The five other players to commit to a school after the Top Prospects Tournament are: Springfield Jr. Blues forward Trent Frey (Mercyhurst); St. Louis Bandits defenseman Tyler Elbrecht (Minnesota State-Mankato) and goaltender Keith Kinkaid (Union); RoadRunners goaltender Bryce Merriam (RPI); and Wenatchee Wild forward Mitch Torrel.