While his goal is to help bring the IceCaps an American Hockey League title, it must be noted that Shawn Weller’s first hockey heroes included guys who broke the hearts of St. John’s fans two decades ago.
The IceCaps’ winger is a native of Glens Falls, N.Y., which in 1991-92 was home to the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings, who won the Calder Cup in a history-making seven-game final by beating the St. John’s Maple Leafs.
Weller’s parents, Shawn Sr., and Kathy, were Red Wings season-ticket holders and regularly had some of the Adirondack players to their home for dinner.
“My dad used to buddy around with some of the guys, like (defencemen) Bob Wilkie and Gord Kruppke,” recalls Weller, who was not yet six at the time. “So I used to see a lot of them and get to hang around the (Red Wings) dressing room.
“I sort of have memories (of the 1992 Calder Cup final), but mostly I remember playing mini sticks with my mom at the top of the (Adirondack) Civic Centre.”
Weller played high school hockey in his home town, but came to the notice of hockey scouts when he joined regional all-star teams based out Albany and Troy, N.Y., about an hour south of Glens Falls.
His services were sought by Canadian junior clubs, but Weller’s goal was to attend university — he would be the first in his family to do so — and accepted a scholarship to Clarkson College in Potsdam, N.Y.
That same year, he was taken by the Ottawa Senators in the NHL Entry Draft and went to the selection camp for the American world junior team (he would go on to play at the 2005 world under-20 championship in North Dakota).
“It was kind of a whirlwind, with so much happening so fast.” said Weller. “I was just a small-town kid out of South Glens Falls and all of a sudden I’m at NHL (prospects) camp, plus all of this other stuff was happening.”
Weller spent three years in the Senators’ system, playing with both Binghamton of the AHL and Elmira of the ECHL. When his entry-level deal with Ottawa expired, he hooked on with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL, and averaged more than a point a game over half a season, earning him a job with the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat. In 2010-11, he was with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, which brought him to the attention of people who would go on to run the Winnipeg Jets, and he ended up accompanying the Moose when they migrated to St. John’s in the off-season.
The move to an Eastern Conference team means Shawn Sr. and Kathy, who have been regular on-site supporters of their son throughout his career, get to see him more often, but unfortunately, it won’t be in Glens Falls or vicinity, at least not in the regular season. Neither the Adirondack Phantoms and Albany Devils are on the IceCaps’ dance card.
“The first thing I did was look at the schedule, so yes, it was a little disappointing to see we wouldn’t be going there,” said Weller.
THE WELLER FILE
Born July 8, 1986 in Glens Falls, N.Y., but was raised in South Glens Falls and still lives there ... Actually is Shawn Weller, Jr. ... Played for the Albany Storm, a bantam team and then with Capital District Selects, a team based out of Troy, N.Y. From there, earned a scholarship to Clarkson University ... Selected by the Ottawa Senators in the third round of the 2004 National Hockey League Entry Draft .... Played for the United States at the 2005 world junior championship in Grand Forks, N.D. (the Americans finished fourth after losing to Russia in overtime in a semifinal game) ... Represented the Bakersfield Condors at the 2010 ECHL All-Star game ...
Favourite pre-game meal: Chicken parm (Ray Ferraro) and whole wheat pasta.
Must-see TV show: Jeopardy.
Favourite person to follow on Twitter: (former Manitoba Moose teammate) Billy Sweatt, for some entertainment.
Favourite hockey player growing up and why: Mike Modano. He’s American and I always liked his style
If you weren’t a hockey player, what would you be: Golfer.
Favourite off-season pursuit: Golf and fishing.
Favourite part of being a hockey player: Hanging out withe the boys in the locker room and playing games in the home rink.
Oldest piece of hockey equipment owned: Shinpads, (since) 2000.
Superstition: Same pre-game routine, meal and stretching.
Favourite ice cream flavour: Chocolate
What people don’t know about the life of a pro: (The rigours of) travel
Song, band or performer played the most on your iPod: Pitbull
Favourite song to sing karaoke to: Coco Jamboo (Mr. President)
First real job: Shoe salesman at Kleins All Sports