Rochester's Fleming has regained confidence, game while excelling for USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede
Former Rochester Mayo and Shattuck St. Mary's standout hockey player Maddox Fleming is excelling with the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede this spring. The Notre Dame commit could also be selected in July's NHL Draft.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Maddox Fleming had faced the difficult decision to leave a hockey team before.
He departed Rochester for Shattuck St. Mary’s after his freshman season at Mayo High School. After one season at the prep hockey powerhouse in Faribault, Fleming made the move to Michigan where he had earned a spot with the elite U.S. National Team Development Program.
There, he had everything hockey-related he could ask for, from nutritionists to strength coaches to high-end practice facilities to top-notch coaches.
But after a year-and-a-half there — and after battling through injuries and illnesses that kept him out of action for weeks, sometimes months, at a time — Fleming didn’t have one thing he coveted most.
“I wasn’t getting a ton of puck touches or power play or special teams time,” he said. “You never want to talk about yourself like this, but I wasn’t in the highest frame of confidence … subconsciously.”
So, the 18-year-old forward, in his NHL Draft year, decided to go to a place where he could get that ice time and get his confidence back to where it was when he put up 52 points in 42 games for Shattuck’s top team in the 2019-20 season.
At Thanksgiving time, Fleming made the decision to leave the USNTDP. The USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede didn’t hesitate to claim him. It has worked out almost exactly as Fleming had hoped. The Stampede are 17-34-6 and out of the playoff picture in the USHL Western Conference, but Fleming has been a bright spot on a team that has struggled to score.
“It’s been really good here,” Fleming said last week from Sioux Falls. “I came here, am on the first power play, playing on the first or second line and a lot of time on specialty teams. I feel like I’ve gotten a big confidence boost and am back to making plays off the rush.
“I’m getting to play a good role and statistically, it’s been good. … Obviously it’s frustrating not winning all the time, but you have to look at the positives and that’s what I’ve done. I’ve gotten all the opportunities in the world here and feel like I’ve taken advantage of it.”
Since joining the Stampede, the 6-foot, 180-pound, 18-year-old Fleming leads the team in assists (21), power-play points (13) and is third in total points (30). The University of Notre Dame commit was selected to play in the BioSteel All-America Game in January — a game that features the top U.S.-born players who are eligible for this year’s NHL Draft — and was named to NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary watch list for the Draft, which is scheduled for July 7-8 in Montreal.
“I think I’ve been able to show my game a little more, show my offensive side and play on the power play,” Fleming said of the advantages to playing in Sioux Falls. “I’m able to just show my game, the more I’m able to play in those special teams situations, the clutch moments of games. Hopefully I’ve shown that I can play at that (professional) level and I want to play at that level.”
Like most Draft prospects, Fleming has been busy filling out questionnaires and personality tests for NHL teams. He has been projected as anywhere from a mid- to late-round pick in recent months.
“It’s obviously a huge motivation for me,” Fleming said of the Draft. “Teams like to learn as much about you as they possibly can. … It’s kind of something that you put in the back of your mind. It’s there. You just want to play as well as you can and go as high as you can.
“But wherever you go in the Draft, you’re not on that team yet. The Draft is just where (a pro career) starts for you. Getting drafted, the goal isn’t complete.”
Fleming credited Sioux Falls’ coaching staff — head coach Marty Murray (who played more than 250 NHL games for four franchises) and assistants Brett Skinner (who played professionally for a decade) and former Austin Bruins forward Riley Colvard.
“They’ve all helped so much with the mental side of the game and made it as smooth of a transition as possible,” Fleming said. “My goal, when I wake up every day, I want to go to the rink and be able to come home and say I improved at something. That’s what matters at the end of the day.”
THE FLEMING FILE
|2021-22||Sioux Falls (USHL)|
USNTDP U18 Team
|2020-21||USNTDP U17 Team||10||20||30|
|2019-20||Shattuck St. Mary's Prep||14||38||52|