Posted 132 days ago ago by David Fine
Three-time National Champion at Shattuck-St. Mary's
David Fine/Kearney, Neb. – The trade news launched just past noon on February 7; the Tri-City Storm had executed a deal with Waterloo and former Black Hawks affiliate forward Caleb Rule was headed to Tri-City.
“I was a little bit confused at first … my parents were confused,” says Rule, who is in his fourth year playing for the Shattuck-St. Mary’s School. “You never really think you’re the one that’s going to be involved in a trade. I let it sit for a little bit. I got the call from Coach [Bill Muckalt] and it got me excited. It made me feel like it was a good and special thing.”
The 18-year-old didn’t need to pack his bags; this move was for the future. Tri-City completed three trades and one waiver acquisition in a 24-hour span, acquiring Rule, affiliate Tyler Borsch, goalie Logan Halladay, four draft picks and two players to be named later. As part of the Rule deal, Alex Limoges was shipped to Waterloo.
“We owe it to our fans and the Tri-Cities to try to secure another Clark Cup next season,” said Steve Lowe, Storm President of Hockey Operations. “We needed to get faster and this deal helped that.”
The Storm considers the three-time Shattuck national champion part of the plan. Lowe and Muckalt have been effervescent in “Rule praise”, denoting the 5-foot-10, 170-lb. scorer as a potential game breaker that could light up the USHL next season.
“Caleb and the kids we picked up, they’re really good kids and we did a lot of research on that. They’re going to buy into Coach Muckalt and our scheme,” Lowe explained.
“I try to play as fast as I possibly can,” said Rule. “I try to be an energy source, pick guys up if they’re ever down. I take pride in it.”
In 46 games playing with the Shattuck-St. Mary’s Midget Prep team, the Ohio State commit has 17 goals and 45 points. Last season, Rule scored 67 points in 53 games.
Storm captain Adam Goodsir (Okemos) and Rule (Lansing) grew up fewer than ten miles away in the Great Lake State and skate together in the summer. Though Michigan is one of the “Three M” States for prime hockey development in the United States (Minnesota, Massachusetts, Michigan), mid-Michigan is still an emerging area.
Goodsir, a 2014 Storm pick, was the first Lansing-area hockey player drafted into the USHL since former NHL forward Drew Miller, who currently plays for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL. Rule followed this offseason.
“I was late to it and didn’t really start skating until I was seven or eight,” Rule said. “I was on my first team when I was nine or ten. Watching the [Detroit] Red Wings, I loved it. I kind of grew up with a golf club in my hand because of my dad [a former collegiate golfer].”
Lansing is the state capital and adjacent to East Lansing, the home of Michigan State. Take a trip an hour southeast, and the University of Michigan’s maize and blue reigns. It didn’t deter Rule from committing to a college whose mere mention in Michigan boils blood – a lifelong Buckeyes fan, Rule chose Ohio State in November.
“My dad and my uncle both played golf at Ohio State. My grandpa attended the school and my aunts. The Ohio State blood runs deep. It was impossible to say no. My friends tease me for it. Two of my closest friends were happy for me, but despised the school. They said they’re only going to cheer for just me. It helps most kids around the area are more into football and the basketball.”
Crowds and Storm future
First-year USHL players often remark on how the USHL speed forces them to modify their style. Rule says he is fine with that given his quick-paced game. As for the larger crowds?
“[At Shattuck] it could be just a regular game and we might only have scouts or parents there. We went up to Lake Placid in New York once to play the hometown team,” he says. “We played in one of the old Olympic rinks. When they scored first, my ears, they just started to hurt.
“Playing in front of people is awesome. I love seeing people that love our game. At Shattuck we’ll have black-out games.”
He estimates the largest crowd he’s played in front of is 1,200. The Storm averages about 2,500 fans a game. Tri-City played in front of 9,014 fans in September at the Sioux Falls Stampede’s home opener in the 10,000-seat Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
“It pumps me up,” remarks Rule, airing a confidence heard by many seasoned Storm players.
A few weeks removed from spring break with friends in Florida, Rule has a handful of games to prepare for in March before the race for a fourth National Championship begins. He’s a future resident of Columbus, Ohio, but says he’s ready for one more stop in between: Kearney, Nebraska. Tri-City hopes Rule sparkles his winning touch on the defending Clark Cup Champions next season.