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Shannon Shows He's High Riser

DUCKS REPORT

October 04, 2006|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Four nights ago, Ryan Shannon was a nervous wreck. At 5 a.m., he was awake for good.

"I couldn't sleep," Shannon said.

What had been in his control since the first day of training camp was now out of his hands. The 23-year-old center awaited his fate until Sunday when Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle told him he had made the opening-night roster.

"If I am in the lineup that night, it'll be a dream come true," Shannon said. "It really hasn't hit me yet."

The 5-foot-8 Shannon earned his spot by using his speed and playmaking skills throughout camp. In five exhibitions, he was third on the team with six points -- one goal and five assists.

It marks a meteoric rise for the undrafted forward out of Boston College. The Ducks, who've had recent success with undrafted players, signed him in November.

In his first season of pro hockey, Shannon raised eyebrows by posting big numbers as a member of the Ducks' American Hockey League affiliate, the Portland (Maine) Pirates. He scored 27 goals and led the team with 86 points.

Shannon had 11 goals and 11 assists in 19 playoff games.

"I know there are a lot of guys that have paid their dues," he said. "In order to stick around and stay longer, I need to be that much better than those guys."

Shane O'Brien, also 23, is one of those guys. An eighth-round pick of the Ducks in 2003, O'Brien spent three seasons in the minors establishing himself as a mobile defender with a penchant for fighting.

"There's not too many guys that break into the league at 26, 27 or 28," O'Brien said, who played for the Pirates last season and collected eight goals and 33 assists. "I felt that I made some good strides last year.

"I got over 200 games in that league. That's a pretty good league and I played with some pretty good players who taught me how to be a pro on and off the ice."

O'Brien said he was more anxious than nervous in awaiting the final cutdown. On Sunday, he said he got about 40 telephone calls from family members and friends back home in Port Hope, Canada.

Now he figures he is an enviable situation, playing defense and learning from Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger.

"You can't take anything for granted," O'Brien said. "It's awesome that I made it out of camp, but you can't stop working for not even one second. It's a business up here and you have to treat it like that."

*

The Ducks will hand out free orange T-shirts to all fans who attend Friday night's home opener against the Kings. The game is a near-sellout with individual tickets still available.

eric.stephens@latimes.com

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