By Chris Block
On Friday, the American Hockey League suspended Rockford IceHogs winger Andrew Shaw for 1 game in response to a boarding infraction Shaw committed in Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago Wolves.
Shaw was called for boarding by official Trent Knorr at the 15:45 mark of the second period when Shaw left his feet while finishing a check on Chicago forward Brett Sterling deep in the Wolves’ zone.
Shaw’s point of contact on Sterling appeared to be a shoulder or arm directly to the side of Sterling’s head. Sterling went down and was shaken up for a few moments but stayed in the game. Play continued on while the Wolves maintained possession of the puck.
During the delayed penalty call, Andrew Shaw retreated to the Rockford IceHogs’ bench where he walked behind the bench where the coaches stand, where he picked up a folding chair. Shaw appeared to be contemplating throwing the chair onto to the ice when he was stopped by one of the team trainers.
Evidently this act was not picked up by any of the cameras filming for the Chicago Wolves broadcast and apparently went unseen by Knorr as there was no additional minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Shaw on Wednesday was competing in his fourth game since returning from his prior suspension – a 6-game suspension for leaving the bench to get involved in a fight against the Lake Erie Monsters on November 3rd.
Since returning, Shaw has been one of the IceHogs most productive performers offensively, posting a goal in each of those four contests, adding an assist and holding a +3 plus/minus rating including Wednesday night’s game. Prior to his first suspension, Shaw had a goal, three assists and was a minus-2 in ten games to start the season.
During his last suspension, the Blackhawks organization allowed Andrew Shaw to leave the team for a few days and return home to Ontario. Shaw left the team on a Friday and returned in time for practice on Monday.
Prior to Shaw’s return, Rockford head coach Ted Dent said he felt the 6-game suspension was a good opportunity for Shaw to “clear his head” and he looked forward to getting Shaw back into the lineup.
“He seems to be in good spirits,” said Dent of Shaw on Nov 21st. “I think we’ve missed him. We need that energy – that forecheck he provides, and that feistiness, for sure.”
This current suspension marks the 6th levied to an IceHogs player already, twenty games into the 2012-13 season.
It’s Shaw’s second. Shawn Lalonde (3gms), Dylan Olsen (2), Kyle Beach (1) and Wade Brookbank (1) are the other IceHogs who’ve been sidelined by the league so far. Lalonde and Beach were each suspended for checking to the head offenses.
50 seconds prior to Shaw’s penalty, Rockford captain Martin St. Pierre scored to trim the Chicago Wolves lead to 2-1. The IceHogs went on to score three more unanswered goals, the last an empty-net tally by Shaw, to defeat the Wolves 4-2 in Rosemont, Illinois.
Wednesday was also the second time this season Shaw was called for boarding Sterling. In the season opener on October 13th at Chicago, Shaw jumped into a check on Sterling in almost the same spot on the ice. That penalty came at 19:13 of the second period and was offset by a Sterling unsportsmanlike minor for what the referee suspected as embellishment. That game was scoreless at the time and was eventually a 1-0 Wolves shootout victory.
Shaw will miss Saturday’s game in Charlotte but will be eligible to return on Sunday in the same venue when the IceHogs rematch with the Charlotte Checkers.
In all, Shaw has accumulated 38 penalty minutes in fourteen games he’s appeared in so far this season. Two of his nine minor penalties have been boarding infractions. The others – Goaltender interference (2), Roughing (2), Unsportsmanlike conduct (1), Slashing (1) and Tripping (1). His other twenty penalty minutes stem from the ten minute misconduct and game misconduct handed down as result of his actions coming off the bench against Lake Erie.
Shaw, a 5th round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011, went unsigned coming out of his final season of junior hockey with the Owen Sound Attack. Shaw stuck with the Blackhawks organization however, initially signing an AHL contract with the IceHogs for the 2011-12 campaign.
Initially, Shaw was relegated to third and fourth line duties with the IceHogs., splitting time between wing and his natural center position. But when dislocated shoulder sidelined Kyle Beach indefinitely, Shaw was given a chance to fill a void on the top lines and flourished as an energy and physical component on the Brandon Pirri centered line.
After impressing IceHogs and Blackhawks brass in the months of November and December, the Blackhawks signed Shaw to a three-year entry level contract on January 3, 2011 and immediately promoted Shaw to the NHL. The move came immediately after Dan Carcillo suffered a season-ending knee injury with the Blackhawks.
Shaw was initially ascended to somewhat of a folk hero status among Blackhawks fans for his gutty and tenacious play on the ice. His game hit all wall however during the Blackhawks February road trip and Shaw soon found himself back in Rockford for a short stint before getting recalled after the NHL trade deadline.
In all, Shaw appeared in 37 regular season games with the Blackhawks, scoring 12 goals, 11 assists to go with 50 penalty minutes. He appeared in three playoff games against Phoenix and was held scoreless.
Shaw’s appearance in that playoff series was limited to three games as consequence of his head shot hit on Coyotes goalie Mike Smith in Game 2 of the Conference Quarterfinal series with Phoenix.