Pro contract in hand with Edmonton, former Air Force goalie Starrett uses DoD policy to his advantage

Shane Starrett (40 - Air Force) (Omar Phillips)
Shane Starrett went 26-6-4 during the 2016-17 season with a 1.99 GAA and a .925 save percentage for Air Force as a sophomore (photo: Omar Phillips).

Former Air Force goalie Shane Starrett enters his first offseason camp as a professional hockey player.

And he has his two years as a Falcon to thank for it.

“Being at Air Force definitely helped me mentally,” Starrett said. “There is a lot of mental tests when you go through basic and survival training. That helped me become mentally tougher and taught me how to best handle stressful situations. You feel you can get through any battle and that definitely has helped me become a better goalie.”

Starrett, 22, left the Atlantic Hockey program this spring, taking advantage of a longstanding Department of Defense policy that allows sophomores to leave the service academy without penalty if they decide the military is not for them.

He signed a two-year contract on April 10 with the Edmonton organization and joins the Oilers for their development camp the first week of July. At this point, he is assigned to the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League.

The recent reversal of another DoD policy that had allowed academy graduates to go pro and forgave their five-year military commitment, makes Starrett’s opportunity a unique one for former Falcons. He is grateful for the chance.

“It’s something I have worked for and dreamed of from the start,” Starrett said. “I am excited but I also know I have to prove myself again.”

While pro opportunities are rare for Air Force players, coach Frank Serratore is not about to bet against Starrett’s chances of enjoying a lengthy professional career.

“I have a lot of faith and confidence in Shane Starrett,” Serratore said. “It’s a tough road trying to make it to the National Hockey League, but he has the size, athleticism and skill set needed.”

Starrett is confident as he prepares for the Oilers camp. He was an invited college free agent at last summer’s Chicago Blackhawks development camp and will rely on that experience now.

“I am going into it with the same attitude as last summer — prove myself to them and prove my worth,” he said. “It is different going in as part of the organization. You are always having to prove yourself in college and especially as a pro.”

Starrett is looking forward to the extra tutelage from Oilers consultant Sylvain Rodrigue.

“Their goaltending coach is really looking forward to working with me,” Starrett said. “Edmonton is a young team that is obviously going to be great in the future. Edmonton is a great fit for me.”

Starrett may be the last Falcons hockey player to have a full-time pro career, but that will not keep AFA graduates out of the minor leagues if circumstances allow.

A number of former Falcons, including goalie Andrew Volkening, forward Jacques Lamoureux and defenseman Greg Flynn, were part-time players or practice-squad athletes for minor league teams near where they were stationed. Lamoureux has played in five of the last six seasons thanks to a flexible work schedule and an understanding commanding officer.

Knowing the limitations placed on active-duty personnel keeps Air Force recruits grounded while they consider a military career after college hockey. That has made the policy reversal a non-factor in recruiting, Serratore said.

“It hasn’t really come up,” he said. “It’s business as usual. [A minor league opportunity] can happen but it takes a lot. They all know that coming in.”

9 COMMENTS

    • He did what he was allowed to do. Like it or not he didn’t break any rules. But you can bet down the road these type of loop-holes will be taken out.

      • My point. One thing to “realize it isn’t for you” as a cadet. I get that. It’s quite another to plan a clean exit. It’s expensive for the rest of us.

        • Must be a great attribute of yours, being able to read what was in his mind more than 2 1/2 years ago. Do you really think he had planned “a clean exit” when he accepted his assignment to join the AFA? He could have played with a HE or NCHC team, was recruited by teams in both leagues, if he thought ahead to bail early. I’ve seen him play two games and have doubts he will make it to the NHL. Nice size, but not great going side-to-side or playing the puck behind the net.

          • Yes, because that’s what he basically said. If you don’t want a career in the military don’t attend a military academy. They are funded to create great generals . Not goalies.

          • Where did he say that he joined the academy and “planned a clean exit”? Even “basically” that is not even remotely close to what he stated. If you believe the “rules” are not right, I suggest you write your congressman to complain, not bash those conform to the regulations in place. Get off your high horse, you are not the only one that pays taxes.

          • You are welcome to disagree. I won’t have a fit over it. And won’t order you to go do this and that. Except maybe suggest to take a chill pill man.

      • I’m fine with myself but thanks. It costs about $200K to educate a cadet for 2 years. Perhaps you can send in a check to cover it.

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