• Cushing

Once a Penguin, Always a Penguin

Conor Sheary ‘10 is making a name for himself in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Check out the following article, which was published in the Telegram & Gazette on Feb. 24.
 
BOSTON — When Conor Sheary was a freshman, he was cut from the Cushing Academy hockey team.
 
He was only 5 feet tall and weighed just 100 pounds.
“I was really small so I didn’t expect to the make the team,” he said. “So it wasn’t a big deal.”
 
Sheary still isn’t very big, just 5-foot-8, 175 pounds, but he’s made it to the NHL and he played for Pittsburgh in a 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins Wednesday night at the Garden. And wouldn’t you know it, Cushing and Pittsburgh share the same mascot, the Penguins.
 
Sheary made the Cushing Academy team the second year he tried out and played three seasons for the prep school in Ashburnham.
 
“I grew a little bit,” he said, “and that kind of caused some motivation as well, not making the team.”
 
He collected 30 goals and 41 assists for 71 points in 31 games in his final season in the 2009-10 season. During his first year on the Cushing hockey team, former Celtic and current Phoenix Suns guard Phil Pressey played for Cushing’s basketball team. They lived in the same dorm.
 
“We’re both under-sized guys,” Sheary said. “So it’s special coming from the spot. It’s pretty cool.”
 
Sheary went on to play for UMass-Amherst, finishing with 38 goals and 66 assists in his four years there.
 
Undrafted, Sheary signed an AHL contract with Wilkes-Barre-Scranton late in the 2013-14 season and he had 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points in 15 playoff games.
 
Last season, he scored 20 goals in the regular season and 5 in the playoffs for WB-Scranton, prompting the parent-club Pittsburgh Penguins to sign him last July to a two-year entry level contract.
 
Sheary began this season playing for former Bruins coach Mike Sullivan in WB-Scranton, but he was recalled by Pittsburgh on Dec. 15, three days after Sullivan replaced the fired Mike Johnston as head coach. The next day the left winger made his NHL debut in a 3-0 loss at the Garden to the Bruins, the team he grew up watching. Two days after that, the Penguins hosted the Bruins and Sheary skated on a line with Sidney Crosby. He collected his first NHL goal and assist.
 
“That was awesome,” he said. “It was nice I got to do it at Pitt in front of our own fans.”
 
After his fast start, the points didn’t pile up for Sheary and the Penguins demoted him to WB-Scranton for a couple of weeks in January, but he’s been back with the parent club since Feb. 1.
Sheary collected 36 points in 30 games for WB-Scranton this season, but he has only 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in 26 games for Pittsburgh.
 
“It was a little bit tougher at first,” he said. “I think once I found kind of my role and what I need to be successful, I think I’ve become a little bit more comfortable.
 
Obviously, the points aren’t going up as much as they were in Wilkes-Barre, but that comes with just time and ice time and stuff like that. I’m comfortable with my linemates and I’m comfortable with my game right now.”
 
Midway through the first period, Sheary had his best scoring chance, but Tuukka Rask gloved his shot. The Bruins swept the season series from the Penguins, 3-0, and out-scored them, 14-3.
 
“They’re a really structured team,” Sheary said. “They play well in the neutral zone so it’s hard to get the puck in their end and they defend their net really well.”
 
Sheary, 23, lived for five years in Winchester before moving to Melrose, home of Bruins television analyst Andy Brickley. He followed his sister to Cushing Academy.
 
Courtney Sheary played hockey for Cushing and then for the University of New Hampshire.
 
Conor Sheary was twice named Cushing’s best offensive player and in his final year he made the New England Prep School All-Star team. He also led the Cushing baseball team in batting average, runs and stolen bases.
 
Sheary is one of more than a dozen Cushing graduates who went on to play in the NHL. Others include Chris Bourque, son of Bruins legend Ray Bourque, and Worcester’s Tom Poti.
 
—Contact Bill Doyle at william.doyle@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter @BillDoyle15.
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Cushing Academy

39 School Street
Ashburnham, Massachusetts 01430
978-827-7000
admissions@cushing.org

Cushing Academy

Cushing Academy exists for students and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Founded in 1865, Cushing is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in our outstanding academic, art, and athletic offerings. We welcome you to visit our community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., just one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.

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