Sharks stay smart on the blue line

by Justin Lafleur || AHL On The Beat Archive

Brett Westgarth played four seasons at Princeton before turning pro in 2007.

Hockey players own a special knowledge of the game, but for many, their knowledge transcends the hockey world.

For Worcester Sharks defensive partners Mike Moore and Brett Westgarth, that is certainly the case.

Moore (’08) and Westgarth (’07) attended Princeton University as Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering majors. They played on the same Tigers team as a defensive pair during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.

Both were drawn to engineering at a young age.

“I was always interested in that sort of field as a kid,” Moore said. “When I was younger, it was what I enjoyed studying and what came more naturally. Then when I got to college, it seemed like a pretty interesting field to enter.”

“When I was growing up, I always loved planes and space programs, so it was the natural,” Westgarth said. “Going to school, I was always more drawn to the maths and sciences than I was to English or art. It was a lot of work, but it was also rewarding.”

The rigorous academic and athletic schedule helped Moore manage his time.

“When you’re busy and you have a strict schedule, things are actually a little bit easier,” he said. “When I knew what I had to do, I was able to get everything accomplished for school and maintain hockey on top of that.”

After completing his collegiate career in 2007, Westgarth signed with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch where he played five games. He signed with the Worcester Sharks on July 17, 2008, and in the process reunited with his old friend.

Mike Moore has eight points in 38 games to start his rookie season with the Sharks.

As Westgarth said, Moore wasn’t the sole reason he signed with the Sharks, but it surely didn’t hurt.

“I wouldn’t say it was a huge influence,” he said. “It was a nice bonus, that’s for sure.”

Moore signed on with Worcester in time for the last weekend of action last year. He helped the Sharks sweep the final three games of the season, showing his toughness in a fight against Brad Mills of Lowell on Apr. 12.

This year, Moore nearly made the San Jose Sharks out of training camp. He was one of the last players reassigned to Worcester on Oct. 7.

“It’s tough getting sent down,” Moore said, “but there’s an opportunity [in San Jose] and you’ve got to keep working hard since it might present itself again.”

The defensive pair from college has reunited as a pair in the professional game. Together, they form one of the toughest, hardest-hitting duos in the league. They aren’t afraid to drop the gloves either. Westgarth is second on the Sharks with 11 fighting majors while Moore is fourth with five.

“I know my role is to shut down the other team and have them not want to play against me,” Westgarth said. “That’s something I take a lot of pride in. If Mike and I are known as one of the harder hitting defensive pairs in the league, that’d be good to hear.”

They have also helped the Sharks’ defense lead the AHL in fewest shots allowed per game.

So far, Moore and Westgarth have played together at the collegiate level and in the AHL. The final step is the NHL, a goal they each have their eyes set on.

“Playing together at two different levels, we’re learning from each other,” Moore said. “It’s pretty interesting and fun to be a part of.”

“To have gone up so many levels together, it’s something you don’t see often,” Westgarth said. “It’d be a special treat to play at the next level with him.”