By Ryan McCracken on April 12, 2018.
The long wait is finally over.
After missing six months with a torn ACL, Medicine Hat Tigers centre Mason Shaw made his return to the ice —as well as his professional debut — on Tuesday evening with the American Hockey League’s Iowa Wild.
“It felt a lot better than I thought it was going to be for playing my first game of the year and my first pro game,” said Shaw, a 97th overall draft pick of the Minnesota Wild. “I felt like I had a lot of jump earlier on and I was happy with how it went.”
The 19-year-old playmaker signed an amateur tryout agreement with Iowa last week before spending his first career AHL game on a line with Kurtis Gabriel and Gerry Fitzgerald. While the Wild dropped a contest 5-3 to the Rockford IceHogs, Shaw still managed to finish with a plus-one rating after being out for a goal in his first shift on the ice.
“It was a good start being on the right side of a goal,” said Shaw, adding it was a good line on which to start his professional career.
Gabriel and Fitzgerald. “It was good. Gerry is on an ATO as well and then Gabriel has played games in the (NHL) so he was a good mentor for us younger guys. We just went out there, played and kept it simple.”
Standing 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Shaw says the AHL was a sizable shift compared to what he’s used to playing at the major junior level, but added he never felt uncomfortable, even against a handful of players with considerable NHL experience.
“It was quite a jump. I haven’t even played a game at all this year, so to play the first one as a pro game against Rockford —who just had five or six guys just sent down from the NHL — it was quite a jump, but I think I did pretty well. Probably the biggest difference is that they had really heavy sticks and hit hard in the corners, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.”
Shaw has been wearing a custom knee brace under his shin pad since being cleared to play by the Minnesota Wild. While it’s taken some getting used to, Shaw says he doesn’t see it inhibiting his abilities on the ice after trying it out in a game situation.
“It felt pretty good,” said Shaw. “After the game it was a little bit sore, just because I haven’t really worked it that hard in a game.”
Iowa has been eliminated from post-season contention but they still have two games left on the regular season docket — Friday and Saturday in a home-and-home with the Milwaukee Admirals. While Shaw can’t say for sure that he’ll be dressing for both, he expects to get in at least one more game before calling it a season.
“We’ll see how the knee feels and everything then kind of go from there,” he said. “There’s a couple other guys down here too who are sitting out of the lineup. It’s up to the coaches but I’m sure I’m going to get a taste of both or at least one if my knee is holding up.”
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