When Shawn Szydlowski came to the Fort Wayne Komets at the beginning of the 2013 season, he did not know what to expect. Since he first stepped onto the Memorial Coliseum ice, he quickly became a fan favorite.
Shawn just returned after having spent some time with the Cleveland Monsters this season when he signed a PTO on January 11, 2017. That same week he was also named ECHL All-Star Team Captain and starter for the ECHL All-Star Classic that was held January 18 in Glens Falls, N.Y. On January 24, Shawn scored his first AHL goal at Milwaukee.
Shawn was nice enough to take some time and allow me to get to know him off the ice and to learn more about the fan favorite.
The Sin Bin: Ok now I must ask, what is your favorite song?
Shawn Szydlowski: Ooh, there are so many out there that I like. I would have to say “Save My Scissors” by the band City and Colour.
TSB: Never heard that one before, I will have to be sure to google it.
SS: Most likely (laughs).
TSB: What would you say is your motivation to go out and play your best?
SS: Umm, I think it is more of my teammates at this point. Obviously, hockey is a team game and you are on a team with a bunch of guys you like and are with people you want to work for, it makes you proud. You know, you want to go out there and let your teammates know that you are willing to go out there and do whatever to help them have success as well and do what you can to help them out it makes the game that much more fun.
TSB: When you are not playing, is there anything that you like to do, any hobbies perhaps?
SS: Um yes, in the winter it is obviously kind of tough but in the summertime, I am a guy who likes to get out and golf a lot, that is definitely one of my hobbies. Since I live on the lake back home, I have a boat so that is something else I like to do in the summer. When there is a nice day I like to get out on the lake and enjoy the boat that is for sure.
TSB: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?
SS: My biggest accomplishment would be when I signed my NHL contract. That is something I most proud of because I went undrafted and I knew I had one year left to make an impression. And in my final year at Erie, I signed an NHL contract and that is something that I will never forget.
TSB: What is a saying or motto that you live by?
SS: I like the one that when it is too hard for everyone else it is just perfect for me.
TSB: From your perspective, what are some things that you feel that the team could work on?
SS: Um, mainly play more consistently. I think it is a pretty basic thing with a lot of teams. We have a great team on any given night, it is just a matter of we focus and play the game we need to play and when we do that I feel we are a pretty unbeatable team especially when we have a full line up. We have a had more than a few comebacks this year and if we score the first goal and play the way we are supposed to there are not too many games that we should lose. So, I think it is playing more and better defensively consistently because we have an offense team that we can score a lot of goals. When we play consistent defense is when we are at our best.
TSB: Do you research your upcoming opponents?
SS: Um, I a little bit. I think in this division you play a lot of the same teams a lot so we are up-to-date on a lot of the teams. We usually have some video sessions and stuff like that in the days before the game or even game day to get prepared for teams so we can kind of get a look at some of the systems and what they plan to do so there is some research that goes into that. I am sure if there was more video on successful players from the league I know there are some guys who would do their own studying. For now, we have a tv and stuff like that and that is how we get prepared.
TSB: What is your biggest challenge as a hockey player?
SS: At this point, I think it is about just staying in shape at this point you know. When you get to my age around 26 or 27 you have been doing it for a lot of years now, it is all meticulous with all the workouts and preparation that goes into keeping your body feeling good and things like that. It gets harder the older you get so I think my main focus is to keep up the motivation off the ice to keep my body in shape so I can perform the way I want to when I am on the ice.
TSB: What was the best piece of advice that you have been given?
SS: The best advice that I have been given, I think it is a variety of things. I have had a lot of good advice throughout the years, from a lot of different people. I think it is mainly when you get into the more competitive years it really comes down to mental strength and not let things bother you before a game. There is a lot of pressure of getting called up and getting sent down, I think that plays a big role in how guys play, and I think the main thing is just to know that you are there for a reason and that is pretty much it. Just play your game at whatever level you are at. If you keep a level head and keep a good work ethic that is all you need.
TSB: Be honest, what did you think of Kaleigh Schrock’s dance?
SS: (laughs) It was pretty good, I will give him credit for not having much experience. My favorite part though was when they screwed up the music at the beginning and he didn’t know what to do. I think they played the wrong song at first and to just watch him try to figure it out at the beginning was my favorite part. We got a pretty good laugh out of that.
TSB: If I followed you around for a day, is there anything that I would be shocked to learn about you?
SS: Umm, probably not, no, I don’t have too many weird hobbies or anything like that. I am a pretty easy going guy. I like my alone time but at the same time, I like hanging out with the guys. I have a pretty normal life. When I am not at the rink, I go to the gym, go home make lunch or get lunch somewhere and pretty much after that it is just hanging out with the guys or trying to find something to do. That is about it. I don’t lead too crazy of a life that’s for sure.
TSB: Well, I want to thank you for sparing some of your time to talk with me. I can’t thank you enough!
SS: Not a problem!
I want to thank Chuck Bailey from the Fort Wayne Komets for helping me set up the interview.