Shawn Szydlowski has dominated the ice surface at Memorial Coliseum for years. Now, he’ll get a chance to show what he can do there on tile.
Szydlowski, who is entering his eighth season with the Komets, will play in the State Wars roller hockey tournament, which begins Friday at Memorial Coliseum and the SportONE/Parkview Icehouse.
“Growing up, I was definitely playing (roller hockey) every summer. I played in all the big tournaments and won some of them, so I was definitely into it a lot back then,” Szydlowski said. “But obviously with the on-ice career and all that, it used to be frowned upon a little bit (to play roller hockey), so I got away from it. But now, a lot of guys I know are playing, a lot of ice guys too, so it makes it fun again.”
Szydlowski will play in the pro division for Envious Rink Rat, a team that includes former Komets players J.C. Campagna and Garret Ross. Their first two games are at 9 a.m. and 4:05 p.m. Friday at the Coliseum and the pro schedule runs through the championship game, 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
In all, State Wars is expecting 210 teams from youth to senior age levels, and games conclude Aug. 10.
Spectators attending games at either the Coliseum or the Icehouse, where two rinks will be in use, must wear masks and practice social distancing. (The schedule and safety guidelines are available at www.statewarshockey.com.) Coliseum general manager Randy Brown said capacity there will be 250 people, meaning it’s possible some fans will be allowed in, depending on how many athletes are in the building, but there are no guarantees.
Another team of local interest, Indiana Tour Guys, in the Senior A/B division, has former Komets captain Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, who coaches the Spacemen junior team at the Icehouse; Fort Wayne-native Jackson Leef, who played last season for the ECHL’s Brampton Beast; and northeast Indiana’s Chris Treft, B.J. Lomow and Josh Moles. Their first game is 2:10 p.m. on Aug. 7 at the Icehouse.
Szydlowski, 29, who was the ECHL's MVP and leading scorer in 2017-18, has made a living as a prolific scorer – he had 15 goals and 56 points in 55 games last season – but this will be a different experience in his home arena.
“I’m already hearing from a couple people that it just looks way different with the roller hockey floor, that for some reason the rink looks a lot bigger and stuff like that,” Szydlowski said. “So it'll definitely be different. Obviously, it won't be as bad for me; everyone else might be taking (the building) in for the first time. For me, it's right at home, so if I don't play good I don't have an excuse.”
Szydlowski had been planning to up his participation in roller hockey before the coronavirus pandemic threw sports off kilter. He was selected in the third round by the Detroit Dragons of the fledgling National Roller Hockey League on Feb. 1 and was planning on playing before its summer season was pushed back to May 2021.
“They’ve got some big plans for next summer so hopefully that holds true,” said Szydlowski, who played alongside Campagna and Ross in 2018-19 for the Komets.
For ECHL fans, there will be some familiar names in pro division of State Wars, including: Tyler Spezia with the Alkali Revel Lions; Brandon Hawkins and Jack Combs with the Mission Empire Snipers; and Steve Oleksy with the Labeda Golden Knights.