by Seth Blank
As one of the youngest players in the United States Hockey League, Trevor Moore couldn’t be faulted for being nervous.
After all, the 16-year-old forward from Thousand Oaks, Calif., hadn’t ever played on the USHL’s big stage with much bigger opponents than the ones he faced while playing for the LA Selects Hockey Club Under-16 team last season.
“Some of these have full-grown beards and missing teeth,” Moore said. “It was a little intimidating at first, but you get used to it. I have Kenny out there with me so I knew Kenny would protect me.”
Kenny is forward Kenny Brooks who along with Nick Lappin and Moore form the Tri-City Storm’s top line. The line has accounted for 29 of the Storm’s 66 goals this season. Lappin’s 14 goals lead the team, but Moore’s play over the last month has turned heads.
After registering only one point in his first eight games, Moore has 14 points in his last 13. He had a five-game goal streak and has three multi-point games this season. Add it all up and he has eight goals and seven assists in 21 games this year.
And it’s only December.
Knowing that, Storm coach Josh Hauge is anxious to see how Moore will perform after the Christmas break.
“I think his future is bright. We’re expecting big things from him,” Hauge said.
Dave Moore, who played Division III college hockey, got his son into hockey at age 5. Last season, Moore recorded 19 goals and 22 assists in 35 games for LA Selects. His statistics caught the eye of Tri-City, which selected Moore with its first pick in the 2011 Futures Draft.
On his way to Kearney for preseason practice, Moore visited the University of Denver and accepted an offer to join the Pioneers hockey team in 2013. Although he had talked with other schools, Denver was the first to provide an offer and Moore didn’t think twice about saying yes.
“That’s kind of where I always wanted to go,” Moore said.
Now, Moore’s set on becoming stronger and better, not only to prepare for college, but with the hope of getting drafted in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft — the first year he’ll be eligible.
The USHL didn’t treat Moore kindly at first. As he struggled to gain confidence while adjusting to the speed of the game early this season, Moore confessed the learning curve was stiff.
“Practices here are way tougher compared to playing 16s where the drills are all fun,” Moore said. “Here, every drill is just a good skate to get your endurance up. It’s really tough.”
“...It was frustrating at first. I mean I wasn’t coming in expecting a lot of points. I was told it’s a very tough league, which it is. The speed of it at the beginning was very difficult for me.”
But the game’s pace started to slow the more ice time Moore shelved. He also benefited from being on a line with veterans Lappin and Brooks, who have taken the youngster under their wings. Moore said they’ve taught him “everything.”
“Just watching them play in practice and games, they’re unbelievable guys. I’m so fortunate to be on their line,” he said.
Brooks likes what he sees in Moore. He said Moore’s not cocky and is willing to work hard. Now, all he has to do is keep his chin up.
“He’s still working on his consistency, but he’s there most games. ...He gets a little nervous because he missed a shot. He gets a little down on himself on those,” Brooks said. “...You’ve got to tell him ’Hey, you’re going to have plenty of those. I’ve missed plenty. It’s going to be OK.’”
As Moore began to improve, it didn’t take long for him to find a home on Tri-City’s power play. He has three power-play goals and one power-play assist this year - all coming in the last seven games.
Those are solid numbers for a player who started his power-play days extremely cautious.
“I was really nervous at first because it was a big step. I didn’t think I would get there that quickly,” Moore said. “When I first got on there, I was just trying to pass the puck around and not mess up.”
As he began tallying points, Moore’s confidence has soared to the point he’s not preoccupied with playing safe. Instead, he wants to make plays.
“Obviously, confidence is key. Avoiding mistakes, you have to try not to do that. You have to go try to make the play, and I think, including me, all of our young guys are starting to do that now,” Moore said.
Moore aspires to play in the NHL, and he’s doing all he can to make his dream a reality. Whether it’s spending his free time lifting weights to bombarding his coach with questions, Moore wants to make sure he’s doing everything correctly.
Hauge said Moore is “a pleasure” to coach.
“He’s a humble kid that just does whatever you ask,” Hauge said. “He plays hard every night. He wants to get better. He’s asking questions. You tell him to do something and he’s trying it. He may not do it the first time, but you know he’s going to figure out a way to get it.”
2012 Recruiting Class
F Tyler Pham (Indiana Ice, USHL)
D Dakota Mermis (Green Bay, USHL)
D Matt Van Voorhis (Sioux Falls, USHL)
F Garrett Allen (Des Moines, USHL)
D Nolan Zajac (Omaha, USHL)
F Quentin Shore (U.S. Under-18)
F Grant Arnold (Green Bay, USHL)
2013 Recruiting Class
F Brad Hawkinson (Lincoln Stars, USHL)
F Landon Smith (Cedar Rapids, USHL)
F Connor Chatham (U.S. Under-17)
F Ray Pigozzi (Des Moines, USHL)
D Will Butcher (U.S. Under-17)
2014 Recruiting Class
F Jared Fiegl (Colorado Rampage, U-16)
D Gage Ausmus (U.S. Under-17)
F Trevor Moore (Tri-Cities, USHL)