Kade Shea had some options this fall.

When the former Duluth Denfeld boys hockey standout was released by the North American Hockey League’s Anchorage Wolverines, a handful of teams in the North American 3 Hockey League reached out to him.

All of those teams coveted his size (6-feet-2, 180 pounds), his ability to play center or wing, and his ability to be a point-producer (51 goals, 119 points in three high school seasons) or a physical presence.

“Absolutely I was (OK with being in Rochester and playing at this level),” She said. “I definitely looked around right away, did my research. I looked at how the team did last year.

“I was impressed with all the team accomplishments and individual accomplishments, but really those individual accomplishments are team accomplishments.”

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So Shea gave Rochester Grizzlies head coach Chris Ratzloff the thumbs up. It’s a decision that has been beneficial for both sides.

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Shea has played in 17 of 18 games this season for the Grizzlies and has worked on the nuances of his game that the coaches in Anchorage asked him to improve upon. The Grizzlies have gotten a gritty forward who played in one of the most competitive and blue-collar high school hockey sections in Minnesota.

“When he came here, he’d just been cut by Anchorage, was maybe down on himself a bit,” Ratzloff said, “but his attitude has been great. He comes to work every day and comes to video (review) every week with a list of notes he takes when he watches our games (on replays).

“When he came in we said ‘come check us out for a couple of weeks.’ He skated with us, played in a couple games and we asked him ‘what do you think?’ Right away he said ‘yeah, I want to be here.’”

All of the work and effort Shea has put in with the Grizzlies (17-1-0) this season paid off on Friday night, when he and linemates Kolton Kane and Luke Morrisette combined for six points in a 3-1 win against NA3HL Central Division rival Milwaukee at the Rochester Recreation Center.

Shea had three assists in the win — one on all three of the Grizzlies’ goals.

“We’ve been playing together for a couple of weeks now,” Shea said of his line. “Me and Luke, we work well together, we hang out all the time. And Kaner, we just kind of feed off each other. We’re starting to piece it together. It felt good to finally put up some points and have it click. … We’ve been working hard; it’s nice to have that reward.”

Shea said he is grateful for the time he spent with Anchorage — an NAHL expansion franchise coached by Rochester native Mike Aikens, who was the Grizzlies’ top assistant the past three years — and for what he learned while there.

“They said they wanted me to become more physical, become a true power forward and work on my skating a little bit,” he said. “I’ve been working on it hard and (Friday) night felt good to finally to put some points up.”

Shea now has four goals and seven assists, for 11 points, in 17 games. But points aren’t always the goal for him or his linemates. On some nights, they’re needed to score. Other nights, they’re needed to shut down an opponent’s top line.

“Our biggest thing is to take care of details in the defensive zone and move the puck up the ice,” She said. “Our forecheck is really what gets us going with our line, being relentless on the puck.”

Shea learned to play that heavy game growing up in Duluth and playing for a storied Denfeld program, where he served as a captain. Facing rugged Section 7 opponents on a nightly basis is a good precursor to the physical play of junior hockey.

“We played some of the top teams in the state; played Hermantown three times last year,” he said. “Just playing that really intense, rivalry-type game every single night, you get used to playing at a high level and against guys who are really good. You have to elevate your game.”

It was evident early this season that Shea comes from a blue-collar program with a lunch-pail mentality. If he keeps working at his game, there’s a good chance he’ll be back in the NAHL before the season is over.

“The northern boys, they play a tough game, a gritty game,” Ratzloff said. “They’re grittier than anyone else. … The biggest thing, for us, is the culture we’ve built here, the success we’ve had with guys moving on to college or the (NAHL). It’s starting to sell itself, with guys wanting to come here.

“When we go (scout) players, we’re looking for guys who’ll fit here, for those guys who are on the (NAHL-NA3HL) bubble. Those are the guys we want, who we can work with and get them what they need and then hopefully they’re not here (as they move on to higher levels).”

How They Scored

FIRST PERIOD

Rochester 1, Milwaukee 0: The Grizzlies entered the zone on a 2-on-2 rush. Kade Shea carried the puck through the right circle and down close to the goal line before sending a pass to Kolton Kane at the far post. Kane got enough of a stick on it to power it past Milwaukee goalie Spencer Northway 13:47 into the game.

SECOND PERIOD

Rochester 2, Milwaukee 0: Grizzlies defenseman Mason Thingvold fired a shot from the point through traffic and Luke Morrisette made a nice re-direct to get it past Northway with 8:47 left in the period. Shea gets his second assist of the night.

Rochester 2, Milwaukee 1: Just as a Grizzlies penalty was about to expire, Milwaukee’s Michael Dalaly gained control of the puck in the left circle. He skated it into the high slot and released a quick shot that beat Lucas Henderson high to his glove side with 3:22 to play in the period.

THIRD PERIOD

Rochester 3, Milwaukee 1: With Northway pulled for an extra attacker, Grizzlies’ d-man Per Waage gains control of the puck in his own end and sends a bobbling puck down the middle of the ice. Power defenseman Dominic Martinetti attempts to play it at his own blue line, but the puck bounces between his legs and slides into the goal with less than 10 seconds to play. Shea collects his third assist of the night.

Box Score

GRIZZLIES 3, POWER 1

Milwaukee 0-1-0 — 1

Rochester 1-1-1 — 3

First period — 1. ROC, Kolton Kane 3 (Kade Shea 5, Luke Morrisette 3) 13:47. Second period — 2. ROC, Morrisette 2 (Shea 6, Mason Thingvold 6) 11:13. 3. MKE, Michael Dalaly 7 (unassisted) 16:38 (pp). Third period — 4. ROC, Per Waage 3 (Noah Roitman 8, Shea 7) 19:58 (en).

Shots on goal — MKE 8-7-10—25; ROC 14-10-11—35. Goalies — MKE, Spencer Northway (L, 3-5-1; 34 shots-32 saves); ROC, Lucas Henderson (W, 3-0-0; 25 shots-24 saves). Power-play opportunities — MKE, 1-for-5; ROC, 0-for-2. Penalties — MKE, 2-4 minutes; ROC, 5-10 minutes.

PB’s 3 Stars

1. Kade Shea, Rochester: The rookie forward from Duluth assisted on all three Grizzlies’ goals, and won two key faceoffs in the closing minutes.

2. Luke Morrisette, Rochester: The forward from Arden Hills assisted on the game’s first goal, then scored the game winner in the second period.

3. Lucas Henderson, Rochester: The young goalie from Lansing, Mich., stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced to improve to 3-0-0 as a starter this season.