From Junior to Pro, the hockey career of Shaq Merasty has taken him all over the continent.
Merasty started his junior career with the Terriers as a call up in the 2008-09 season. The Minnedosa product started with the team full time in 2009 and put up 39 points in 59 games as a rookie. His next season saw more success for himself (44 points) and for the team as the Dogs won the Turnbull and ANAVET Cups. Merasty had a strong senior year posting 60 points in 38 games on route to another Turnbull Cup and trip to the ANAVET Cup and RBC Cup in Humboldt.
“I remember the atmosphere in the playoffs [in Portage], especially during those two deep runs,” says Merasty. “The coaches were great. They had a great style and a four line game. I have lot’s of playoff memories. Geno was a huge part of being in the Terrier environment and it was sad to see him go.”
Following his junior career Merasty was slowed down by injury. “I had a surgery before college and then had a good opportunity at Adrian College (NCAA Div III). We made it to nationals, and I picked up some hardware.” Merasty was named the USCHO D-III Rookie of the Year and was second in the league with 22 goals in 28 games.
Merasty only played one year at Adrian before pursuing other opportunities. “I took a year away from college playing senior, and then went to U of M for 3 seasons.” While playing senior hockey, Merasty had 57 points in 15 games for the Sagkeeng Braves. At the U of M, his offensive production continued as he was around a point a game player all three seasons.
After University he was able to achieve a childhood dream. “I had an agent in Winnipeg which helped me sign with Witchita (ECHL). I had to scrap and claw to get where I was,” says Merasty. “There were some good memories. It was a great league with some good players. Scoring my first pro goal and first pro fight are some things I will remember.”
Over three full seasons in the East Coast Hockey League Merasty played 117 games for five different teams (Witchita Thunder, Rapid City Rush, Orlando Solar Bears, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and Fort Wayne Komets) and put up 46 points. He also had a brief stint in the SPHL with the Birmingham Bulls.
He credits a lot of his success to what he learned in junior. “The culture of Portage, the way we practiced and conducted ourselves in the rink helped me at the next level. The culture of working hard and accountability was huge. That was always my goal growing up, to play Pro Hockey. My time in Portage helped me get to that goal.”
Merasty now finds himself teaching the next generation in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is a full time assistant coach for the Tier I AAA Souix Falls U15 and U18 teams. “I have made the transition into coaching. I had a contract with Witchita but decided to opt out and coach full time,” he says. “The championship pedigree [in Portage] helps me. I try to use what I learned to help the kids I coach now.”