Starrett Signs with Edmonton Oilers of NHL
Shane (left) and Beau Starrett
Two years ago, Beau Starrett put Bellingham on the map when he became the town’s first hockey player to be drafted by a professional team, taken on the third round by the Chicago Blackhawks. Last month, on April 10, his brother Shane, a top-notch goalie for the Air Force Academy, agreed to a two-year entry-level contract with the Edmonton Oilers, giving him the distinction of becoming the first player from Bellingham to sign a pro hockey contract.
Beau, who is 21, is a sophomore at Cornell University and plans on signing with Chicago when he finishes his collegiate hockey career for the Ivy League school. Shane, who is 22 and a sophomore at Air Force, decided the time was ripe to pursue a lifelong dream to play in the National Hockey League.
The decision, nevertheless, wasn’t easy because if Starrett stayed at the Air Force Academy beyond two years, he would have had a five-year military commitment to fulfill. His sophomore season put him in an elite class of goaltenders.
Starrett led Air Force to a 26-6-4 record and had a 1.99 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage, and five shutouts. He was named the Most Valuable Player at the Atlantic Hockey Conference’s Final Four and was voted by his teammates as the Falcons’ Most Valuable Player for a second straight year. Starrett guided Air Force to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, where the Falcons lost a 3-2 decision to Harvard. He also was a semi-finalist this season for the Mike Richter Award, given to the nation’s top goaltender.
“I was honored to be admitted to the academy, where only 1,000 students are accepted yearly,” Starrett noted. “Academics are tops and the hockey program is outstanding; but, since I was 10 years old, I dreamed of playing pro hockey. The offer by the Oilers was the right choice for me and it’s a good fit. My primary focus going forward is a career in hockey and, if it doesn’t pan out, I can work on a degree later.”
Terms of Starrett’s contract weren’t specified by the Oilers, adhering to a policy of not revealing dollar amounts. The 6-foot-5, 195-pounder emphasized that he was pleased and happy with his contract and the organization. “My family was supportive and they stressed the importance of doing what I felt was right,” Starrett said. “After I finish this year at the academy, my next stop will be attending an Oilers’ summer camp in July for rookies, draft choices and free agents.”
Starrett’s hockey career started to jell when he was playing for Catholic Memorial, where his three brothers also competed. He was an all-star in the Catholic Conference and was the Knights’ MVP and captain in his junior year. He left the Catholic powerhouse to play his senior year at South Kent Prep School in Connecticut. Starrett’s ability didn’t go unnoticed and he was offered a scholarship to play for legendary coach Jack Parker at Boston University.
“I verbally committed to BU but later opted out to play junior league hockey,” Starrett said. “I played juniors for two years in places like Sioux Falls, SD; Lincoln, NE; Portland, ME; and Foxboro with the South Shore Kings. Playing for Portland and Foxboro, I was voted a two-time all-star in the U.S. Premier Hockey League. Playing junior league hockey was a big factor in getting a chance to attend the Air Force Academy.”
Starrett spent two seasons at Air Force, compiling a 42-15-9 record, a 1.96 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage and nine shutouts in 70 career NCAA games. His most memorable outing at the academy was against Boston College in Air Force’s opener.
“Defeating BC was exciting because it was in a tourney in Denver,” Starrett recalled. “They were ranked fifth in the country and we beat them, 2-1. No one expected us to win that contest. My best game at Catholic Memorial was against St. Sebastian. “Beating them, 2-1, was thrilling because we had lost to them in our previous meeting. Also, that’s a school that turns out lots of pro prospects.”
A major disappointment for Starrett occurred in Providence last month at the NCAA Tournament, where the Falcons bowed to Harvard. Air Force was one of eight teams vying for the collegiate crown. “That loss stung a bit,” he said. “We worked hard to get to the tourney, and to be eliminated was tough; but I’m proud I helped us get to the final eight.”
Starrett is quick in net for his 6-5 size and he also relies on athleticism and his instinctive nature. “I’ve refined some technical things but mastering technique is a learning process,” he noted. “My philosophy is to outwork my opposition, compete hard and win. It’s all about controlling what you can control.”
Starrett is quick to thank his college coach, Frank Serratore, who labeled his goalie as “the cornerstone of our team” at the end of the season. “Coach Serratore was also my goalie coach,” Starrett said. “He’s very knowledgeable and he helped in my development. When I signed with the Oilers, he was positive and happy for me.”
The Starrett family has had a phenomenal run with ice hockey. Besides Beau at Cornell and Shane at Air Force, Pete played at Harvard and Troy competed at Babson. All four skated for Catholic Memorial.
Starrett is confident he can earn a spot on the Oilers’ roster, but he’s acutely aware that he’ll spend some time with Edmonton’s minor-league affiliates. “In year one I’ll be getting familiar with what it takes to play at the professional level, and hopefully in year two I can be playing in the NHL,” he said. “Learning and listening will be the keys to improving.”
Looking ahead, a brother-versus-brother matchup would be exciting if Shane is playing for Edmonton and Beau is on Chicago’s roster. A winger, Beau could steal the puck and be on a break-away with only Shane in goal to prevent a score.
That situation would be dynamic for the Starrett family and also for Bellingham.