Brady Shaw was having the finest season of his professional hockey career. He was seventh in the ECHL in scoring with 62 points in only 48 games. And he was perhaps the most pivotal figure in the Komets’ quest to win a Kelly Cup.
We’ll never know if a championship would have happened – the season was canceled with 10 games left because of COVID-19 – and that’s frustrating for the 27-year-old forward.
But Shaw can take some solace in knowing that he was voted MVP by his teammates Wednesday.
“It’s voted on by your peers, so anytime you can get an award like that, it means that you were doing something right throughout the year,” said Shaw, who led the team in points, goals (27) and plus/minus rating (plus-15).
He thanked several of his linemates, including Shawn St-Amant, Brett McKenzie, Shawn Szydlowski and Alan Lyszczarczyk, and the rest of his teammates.
“It’s easy to play when you’re with good players and I think a lot of my success runs through them,” Shaw said from Illinois, where he’s with his girlfriend under a COVID-19 stay-at-home order.
“And also (head coach Ben Boudreau and assistant Olivier Legault), they put me in a lot of situations this year that allowed me to have success and they trusted me and I performed for them, so it was good.”
This year only, fans were able to participate in the voting for the other team awards along with reporters and team personnel, though the formula for determining the winners wasn’t disclosed.
Lyszczarczyk was selected Rookie of the Year, after he totaled 19 goals and 46 points in 58 games.
Olivier Galipeau was named Defenseman of the Year with eight goals, 34 points, 11 power-play points and an even plus/minus rating in 58 games.
The Most Improved Player was defenseman Kyle Haas, who had two goals, nine points and a league-leading 164 penalty minutes in 45 games.
McKenzie took the Unsung Hero award. He was second on the team in goals (23) and points (60) in 56 games.
Anthony Petruzzelli, who had 17 goals and 33 points in 53 games, pocketed four awards: Best Defensive Forward, Mr. Hustle, the True Komet award for “exemplifying team spirit on and off the ice,” and the Bud Gallmeier Community Service award.
Petruzzelli fostered seven dogs for Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control during the season – all were adopted – and inspired teammates to follow suit.
The Komets seemed poised to make the playoffs for the seventh straight year; they were 31-23-8 and in third place in the Central Division.
Shaw’s value was, perhaps, most felt when he was concussed on a hit by Jacksonville’s Dajon Mingo on Jan. 30 that didn’t draw a penalty or a suspension. That set the stage for a wild game the next night that included brawls, 136 penalty minutes and 29 games worth of suspensions from the Icemen’s 5-4 overtime victory.
The Komets won only 1 of 5 games with Shaw recovering from the injury. He had 10 goals and 15 points in 12 games after returning to the lineup.
Shaw was 11 points back of Toledo’s Josh Kestner for the ECHL lead and six back of Kester for the goal-scoring lead when the season was halted.
“It's tough. It’s understandable, but it’s tough,” Shaw said of the season ending because of the coronavirus pandemic. “There are unanswered questions both personally and from a team standpoint, as well. You work so hard to get into playoff position. They always say, ‘Once you get in, who knows what’s going to happen?’ We worked so hard to get into that position and just to have it end abruptly like that makes it a tough pill to swallow. But it’s understandable because the health of the all the players, fans and staff is more important than winning hockey games.”
Over two seasons with the Komets, Shaw has totaled 41 goals and 101 points over 93 regular-season games and has three goals and five points in six playoff games. He’s also spent seven games in the higher-level American Hockey League, with Chicago and Cleveland, along the way.