How smart casting turned Shoresy into TV’s best hockey show

The first season of Hulu Shoresy he accomplished several impressive feats. Not only did he draw the attention of the supporting character of series creator and star Jared Keeso Letterkenny into a fully formed, likeable protagonist, but also managed to deliver one of the most realistic portrayals of small-town hockey you’ll find on any screen — big or small.

To achieve the latter, Keeso and the rest of the show’s creative team took an unconventional approach (at least by Hollywood standards) to casting the show: bringing in real-life, professional hockey players to play many of the characters, regardless of acting experience.

In the series, Kees’ titular, sarcastic character — nicknamed “Shoresy” — finds himself on the dysfunctional, ever-worsening triple-A senior hockey team, the Sudbury Bulldogs. When the team’s general manager threatens to disband the team, Shoresy vows to never lose again and recruits a ragtag team of ex-pro players to help rebuild the once-successful team’s winning ways.

Image used with permission of the copyright holder

Former hockey pros Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, Terry Ryan, Jon Mirasty and Brandon Nolan portray several members of the misfit – and in many cases toothless – squad that helps Shoresy turn the Bulldogs’ fortunes around. They are joined by several other former professionals in the show’s cast, many of whom are making their debut on the show.

“The learning curve was big,” said Nolan, who played for the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and the minor league Albany River Rats during an eight-year career. “I didn’t know anything was happening. I didn’t know about call lists or scripts. We just walked in completely blind. But [everyone] he was very gentle with us in the beginning. The hardest thing for us was not to laugh. Sometimes it would take several times more than it should.”

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However, one thing that came easy for the hockey pros in the show’s cast was portraying the players’ lives on and off the ice.

“Jared would always check with us and it was nice to be able to give him an opinion — because we’re people who’ve been there,” said Mirasty, who earned the nickname “Nasty” for his aggressive play in the pro leagues during the year. Mirasty and Nolan, as well as Nolan’s brother, Jordan, portray a trio of corrections officers — all named “Jim” — recruited to toughen up the list.

“[It was] little things like how our locker room stands will be set up or something with hockey fights. … Jared is a pretty good hockey player himself, but it was always nice to have him come in and include us and offer our perspective,” Mirasty added.

Jordan Nolan, Brandon Nolan and Jon Mirasty sit at a picnic table in winter in a scene from Shoresy.Image used with permission of the copyright holder

“The way guys are in the room [and] the way we are on the bench throughout the game, [Shoresy] it just perfectly portrays how hockey players behave and work,” agreed Nolan. “And besides, it perfectly describes how a senior triple-A hockey team would work. Things that happen during the season Shoresyit would really be that kind of senior hockey in Sudbury.”

In some cases, the show was so reflective of reality that cast members were actually playing fictional versions of themselves.

For example, former first round NHL draft pick Terry Ryan, a native of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, was cast as Ted Hitchcock, a former first round NHL draft pick from … wait for it … Mount Pearl, Newfoundland.

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“I think hockey is authentic not only with the things you’ll see on the ice, but also off the ice,” Ryan told Digital Trends. “When they say ‘Cut,’ we’re still there telling stories. I hate to overuse the word ‘surreal,’ but it felt that way because what we were doing on camera mimicked what we were doing in real life and what we were doing before.”

The men of Shoresy smile at the camera, shirtless, toothless.Image used with permission of the copyright holder

Nashville Predators 2013 draft pick Jonathan-Ismael Diaby also plays a modified version of himself in the series.

“The way the story is written is really like a hockey team,” agreed Diaby. “Like a real hockey team, there are problems with girls, guys fighting, guys getting drunk and so on. And like Terry said, after they say ‘Cut,’ we just sit in the room and talk hockey and chirp and tell stories.”

Of course, while the subject matter was nothing new for the former hockey pros who starred in the show, their experience on the show still provided plenty of learning material.

“The dry humor was very difficult, because you want to laugh at it,” Mirasty recalled. “But I’m the kind of guy who likes to be thrown into the fire. And there couldn’t have been a better group of people to help us. We are all good friends now. It was a fantastic experience.”

“The first season didn’t feel any different to me than going through a whole playoff round with a group of guys,” Ryan added. “I hope we can do it again.”

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All six episodes Shoresy season 1 is now available on the Hulu streaming service.

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