A Look At: Strathroy’s Shane Bulitka – by C. Scott Holland

Ask any GOJHL rookie how tough it is to adjust to playing in the league and most likely you’ll find similar answers. But for Strathroy Rockets forward Shane Bulitka it is the beginning of a difficult journey and one on which he has become comfortable.

For the 16 year-old Ilderton native and an Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs AAA grad, the path hasn’t been exactly smooth. As a forward with the struggling Strathroy Rockets he has managed to put up 16 points (7g., 9 a.) while showing his youthful talent. However that’s a far cry from his stats of last season when he racked up 27 goals and 45 assists for 72 points in 41 games with the Chiefs.

He recalls playing hockey “in my basement with my (two) sisters” and obviously the enjoyment of the game has stuck with him. His hockey career “at four or five in Ilderton,” he said and has since, “learned to score and help out defensively.”

Being drafted by the OHL Sudbury Wolves in the second round (28th overall) of the 2015 draft was a thrill for the 180 lbs., 5’9″ forward. “I was fortunate and had hoped to go as high (in the draft) as I could.”

OHL Central Scouting reported that Bulitka was the best passer and had the best vision of any player in the draft.

Since that time he’s attended Sudbury’s rookie camp and a fitness camp as well as seeing action I several exhibition games.

He’s noted the difference of the type of hockey not only at the OHL level but the GOJHL as well. “The guys are a lot stronger, play is quicker and in order for me to play and compete with them I’ve got to develop and get stronger.”

He likes the fact that Rockets’ head coach Brendan Riggin has used him “in all situations.” And Bulitka realizes that by participating in many different aspects of the game, it is helping him develop.

His own NHL role model?

Shane named, “Sidney Crosby – because he is smart with the puck and such a leader.” Having that kind of hero to look up to, certainly has to have a positive effect on how Shane’s hockey progresses.

When asked what assets he brings to the Rockets, he replied, “My shooting and explosive ability.” Although he knows his shot must be refined more in order to be more consistent in scoring.

Besides hockey he enjoys playing tennis and badminton and is aided in the former sport with a court in his own backyard.

Despite the troubles the Rockets have undergone this season, he said, “The guys are great and so is the coaching staff.” But for Shane the only way for himself and the Rockets to succeed is via “our best effort every night.”

A huge part of the changes he’s seen is the fan attendance and the atmosphere at every Rockets’ home game. He’s thankful for any and all fan support.

His lone goal at the moment is to play in the OHL next season and he believes that within five years he could be playing in the NHL. However that doesn’t mean that he won’t get an education and hopes to take business courses.

Focusing on hockey may be a primary part of what drives Bulitka today, but somewhere down the road he’ll be another example of a fine young man who has served in the ranks of the GOJHL and the West Conference.

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