DU Recruit Making Waves In USHL

(above) NHL scouts are drooling over DU recruit Scott Mayfield who plays in the USHL this season

by James D'Amanda

For DU recruit, Scott Mayfield (6'4 200 lbs) sure has trouble keeping himself a secret. Even with Halloween approaching, you won't catch this Phantom disappearing through a wall – or a ceiling. Because these days, the walls are lined with professional scouting reports, and in Mayfield's world, ceilings are hard to find.

After an eye-catching performance at the 2010 USHL Fall Classic in Sioux City, Iowa, Mayfield has carried plenty of that momentum into the 2010-11 season. His game-winning goal against the Chicago Steel in the first week of the season secured a victory for Youngstown and CCM Defenseman of the Week honors for Mayfield.

But it gets better. According to NHL scouts, Mayfield has become a top prospect in the upcoming 2011 NHL entry draft.

"Everything that's happened to me has happened in the past 18 months," Mayfield told last week. "I feel the attention, and it builds confidence, but you also can't read into it too much. On a piece of paper it doesn't matter – it's all about how you perform, and I know that. So I'm just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better."

When the heat is on, Mayfield plays it cool. But when a 17-year old hockey player's "day-by-day" features hundred of scouts and thousands of spectators, how does he keep from getting caught up in the moment?

Back at the Fall Classic, only moments after Youngstown defeated the Sioux Falls Stampede, 4-2, Mayfield offered a straight-up, honest answer to this question.

"You know," he said with a smile, "every player will tell you 'no, it doesn't affect me,' but all of us are just thinking to ourselves, 'man, look at all those guys up there!' It's always in the back of your mind, but you try to zone them out as much as you can."

As the year progresses, Mayfield's ability to "zone out" any outside influences will become increasingly relevant. Committed to the University of Denver for the 2011-12 academic year, Mayfield says he looks forward to the next step in his career.

"I can't wait to play for Denver. They have a great program – they're a winning program. I have always loved the University of Denver, and I've wanted to go there since I was eight or nine."

"I also grew up playing with some of the kids who are now at some of these big WCHA schools, and a couple kids on Youngstown who are going WCHA. My roommate last year plays at UNO (University of Nebraska at Omaha) this year, so I'm really looking forward to playing against those guys."

For the 2009-10 USHL season, Mayfield moved from St. Louis, Missouri to Youngstown, Ohio. And he says the transition was, at times, a real struggle.

"On the ice, the transition is about adapting to the speed and the size. I thought it took me about 10-15 games, maybe, to get on my feet, start making plays and really getting noticed out there. But there's also a huge change in your life off the ice. Being in a new place, new town at age 16, new family – so that's the biggest transition, learning to adjust off the ice and still perform."

Mayfield believes his experiences off the ice – where he discovered a new kind of personal autonomy – help explain his rapid development over the past 18 months.

"Moving away from home last year definitely made me mature at a quicker rate than I expected. Being 16 when I moved away really helped me grow up."

With a strong opening to the 2010-11 season, Mayfield believes he has put himself in the best position to succeed. He also recognizes that there is still plenty of room for growth.

"Honestly, I feel like I was young last year. Over the summer I learned better ways to train, better ways of conducting myself. And I feel like leadership-wise, being in my second year, I've really stepped into that leadership role."

When it comes to being at the right place at the right time, Mayfield – now standing 6-feet, 3 ½ inches tall, with his own band of confidence – may find that a Phantom truly can be everywhere at once.

"When you have an opportunity to play in front of someone, you take advantage of it," Mayfield says. "That's one of the most important things that I've learned."

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