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Former Jr. King, SDIA Oiler Buium decides on NCAA D-I Denver

 

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Shai Buium and his current coach, Rich Metro, faced an interesting decision about the defenseman’s destination this season.

On the one hand, the 2003 birth year could have made Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep team, but would that have been in his best interest?

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“He could have gone up, but by staying at the 16U level, he’s gotten crucial minutes, and you can see that extra confidence,” Metro said of the longtime Los Angeles Jr. King and SDIA Oiler.

That confidence has translated into a monster season and a recent college commitment to the University of Denver for the San Diego native.

Buium had 55 points (13 goals, 42 assists) through 44 games – up from 31 points in 54 games last season – and he’s accomplished that as a 6-foot-3, 214-pound defenseman. He also skated three games with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers earlier this month, tallying one assist.

It’s no wonder Division I schools were lined up for his services.

“He’s got prototypical size at 16, but he had to grow into his body,” Metro added. “He’s really come into his own.”

Buium has always liked the offensive side of the game, but he cited a one simple difference this season.

“I’ve grown really confident in my abilities,” he said. “I always work my hardest to improve.”

He was part of the Jr. Kings’ stellar 2003 group and called coaches James Gasseau and Jeff Turcotte huge influences on his development.

“They were really great,” Buium said. “They always taught me new things about defense and about offense. Jeff ran skill sessions before practice that helped immensely.”

Buium, who is the second of three hockey-playing siblings, including younger brother Zev at Shattuck, said the opportunities at Denver were too much to pass up.

“It’s a lot like Shattuck; it felt like home,” he said. “I liked the campus, the coaches are awesome, and the weight room facilities are incredible. That played a big role, too, in the decision because the weight room has been huge for me.”

Buium’s workmanlike attitude has endeared him to teammates and classmates alike, Metro said.

“Shai is one of the nicest kids you’ll meet,” said Metro. “He’s friends with everyone on campus, and he’s truly excited to come to the rink and work.

“He’s well-rounded. He does well in school and is eager to learn. He’s a good leader for us, too. There isn’t a lot of nonsense to him or to his game.”

Photo/Hickling Images

— Chris Bayee

(Feb. 28, 2020)