By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277

On July 2nd, 2023, The American Hockey League Providence Bruins signed goaltender Shane Starrett to a one-year AHL Only contract. This signing for Providence adds to the organization’s depth while increasing the competition and earning crease spots in the upcoming AHL Bruins training camp.

Starrett, a 28-year-old Bellingham, Massachusetts native, has been a journeyman in the minor pro ranks. The 6′-5″ 195-pound netminder has spent most of his professional hockey career in the ECHL, where he has a career record of 48-46-13 with a 2.94 goals-against-average and .909 save percentage in 116 games. At the higher AHL level, Starrett has appeared in 64 career games posting a 35-15-10 record, a 2.71 GAA, and a .905 Save%.

Before Shane’s pro career, he was a standout high school netminder at Catholic Memorial here in Massachusetts and later traveled to the state of Connecticut to attend the South Kent School for his senior year. After making stops in the United States Hockey League and the USPHL Premier League, Starrett joined the Air Force Academy, where his game started to round out.

In two seasons with the Air Force club, Starrett posted a career record of 42-15-9 with a 1.96 GAA and .924 Save%, along with nine shutouts. In his final year of school at the Air Force Academy, Shane was the Most Valuable Player at the Atlantic Hockey Final Four and came second in voting for the Mike Richter Award given to the nation’s top goaltender. After his NCAA career was over, the undrafted goaltender signed his first professional hockey contract as a free agent with the National Hockey League Edmonton Oilers.

After several years of bouncing between the Bakersfield Condors (AHL), and the Witchita Thunder, Starrett shifted his pro hockey career to the east coast of the United States, signing with the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. After one season with the AHL Penguins, primarily spent with their ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers, the then 26-year-old Starrett took his talents overseas to Europe.

In the 2021-22 season, Starrett signed to play in England for the Elite Ice Hockey League Glasgow Clan, where he appeared in 53 games posting a 23-30-0 record, a 3.20 GAA, and .908 Save%. After one season of English pro hockey, it was back to the United States for another opportunity at North American pro hockey. In August of 2022, the ECHL Kansas City Mavericks signed Starrett to a one-year deal where he posted a record of 24-21-5 with a 2.68 GAA and .913 Save%, along with four shutouts in 54 games back in his home country.

What’s Starrett’s Role in Goal for the Upcoming 2023-23 Providence Bruins Season?

Shane Starrett’s addition to the AHL Providence Bruins is a depth signing and one to push current crease members in the upcoming Providence training camp this fall. With Netminders Brandon Bussi and Kyle Keyser locked in for another season of developmental hockey, Starrett might find a great opportunity with the Boston Bruins “AA” ECHL affiliate, the Maine Mariners.

What the NHL Boston Bruins will do with current restricted free-agent goaltender Michael DiPietro remains to be seen. The 24-year-old DiPietro was selected in the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks and was acquired by Boston in a trade that sent former B’s prospect forward Jack Studnicka to Vancouver. Last season for the ECHL Maine Mariners, DiPietro appeared in 29 games for the team from Portland, Maine, and posted a 19-9-0 record with a 2.61 GAA and .918 Save%.

Starrett’s one-year deal with Providence might be an insurance policy on whether or not a depth goaltender like DiPietro is retained for another season. I believe last season’s netminder Francois Brassard will likely be looking elsewhere to keep his professional hockey career going. If DiPietro is, in fact, signed for the upcoming year, he could work well as a tandem with Maine splitting the crease duties with recently signed Starrett.

This is why the minor-pro systems in hockey play an important role that many hockey fans don’t pay attention to. If a player from an NHL club gets injured and is out at any time, the absence creates upward opportunities that affect all three levels of North American Pro Hockey. Speaking on just the goalie aspect, if one of the NHL roster netminders gets hurt, the call for support from the AHL will most likely happen. Once the AHL club loses a player for higher-level advancement, the call to fill that AHL spot often comes from the ECHL ranks.