With the 2019-20 NAHL Season coming to an abrupt and unexpected end, the Austin Bruins are taking this time to thank the players whose junior careers wrapped up this season. TJ Chillot takes you through each of the 1999-born players who finished the season on the Austin roster and what they brought to the Bruins both on the ice and off. In addition, TJ looks ahead to see what’s on the horizon for these incredibly talented hockey players. #OnceABruinAlwaysABruin
Thank you, Jaden Shields!
When I arrived in Austin for the 2018-19 season, I didn’t know much – if anything – about Jaden Shields. I had heard his name around the office and the locker room as a former player competing in the USHL but that was about all. Then in the early portion of the 2019-20 season, Jaden Shields returned to Austin and it was an instant boost for the Bruins defense.
Only eight players have played in more games for the Bruins than Jaden Shields. His 147 games is not only ninth all-time with the Bruins, but fourth all-time among defenseman, and that’s with him missing the entire 2018-19 season as he competed in the USHL. While he was in the USHL, he might have moved around a bit having played for four different teams in one season (Chicago, Omaha, Sioux Falls, Lincoln) when it came to the NAHL there was only one team that the Royal Oak, MI, native geared up for: the Austin Bruins.
A shifty and stout defenseman, Shields is no stranger to the offensive part of his position, having logged 25 total points in 45 games for the Bruins in 2019-20. Over the course of his entire NAHL career, Shields netted 16 goals and added 50 assists for a total of 66 points. A little quick math will tell you that’s an average of just below a half point per game, which is incredible production to get of a defenseman. I can recall a game back on February 21, 2020 when the Bruins were in Aberdeen. Shields sneakily slipped onto the rush behind the Wings defense and slammed home a cross-slot pass. If you were watching the Bruins for the first time and didn’t know what position Shields played, you’d swear he was a forward. That’s how well-rounded of a player he is. See for yourself.
Usually when there is an offensively minded defenseman, it’s a double edged sword. You take the scoring at the sacrifice of stay-at-home defense. Not with Shields however, who finished his NAHL career at a +13. He simply wasn’t a liability on the ice despite his offensive talents.
As for Jaden the person, not just the player, he was one of the more determined players I’ve seen. When he had a goal in mind, it took a natural disaster to move him off course. As I think back to when he appeared on The Austin Bruins Show (which you can hear in its entirety below), I asked him the same question that I ask almost every one of my guests: “What goals did you set forth for the season that aren’t ‘Winning the Robertson Cup’ or ‘Get a college commitment’? His answer was simple, to finish the year as a plus-rated player. He knew as a defenseman, his defensive talents needed to come first. It was one of the more precise answers I have ever recieved. What’s more, it didn’t take him more than a half-second to come up with the answer once I asked the question. That was Jaden Shields in a nutshell. Analytical, introspective, and always looking to improve his game.
Its those qualities which make him a good-looking prospect to Division-I and Division-III schools looking to strengthen their locker room and blue line. While he hasn’t announced his plans for 2020-21 just yet, my money is on Jaden showing up in many Alumni Reports to come as he continues his hockey career at the collegiate level.
147 games played in the black-and-gold. Say it again with me, one hundred and forty-seven games. Jaden Shields is an all-time Austin Bruin and we can’t wait to see what’s next!
To hear more from Jaden about his career in Austin, the USHL, and so much more, check out The Austin Bruins Show episode from earlier this season where he and I sat down to discuss those very topics.
147 Games Played, 16 Goals, 50 Assists, +13, 147 PIM